By: Rev. Marisa Brown-Ludwig
As we step over the threshold of the New Year, we are still walking with the story of Christmas, and the early life of the infant Christ. As characters in the story who show up some time after Jesus’ birth, perhaps the Magi have something to say to us in this first month of 2020!
2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matt 2:1-2)
What was it the Magi understood about the special one who was born, some message of hope that the Magi saw in the rising of the Star? Whatever it was, they were willing to risk, to journey a long distance without knowing exactly where they were going. It is significant that this message then came not only to one people in one place but drew people from another country.
Perhaps it is this same message of hope that terrified Herod, and all of Jerusalem with him – so the scripture says. Herod knew how to fight an army, but not how to stop the hope of the ages. Herod thought he could secretly work out a deal with the Magi to kill the infant King they found and by doing so stop the realm the sages had foretold. Herod thought that by killing the Messiah King he could stop God’s plan but instead God’s plan triumphed through a defenseless infant who would grow up to teach love instead of hate, who would die instead of kill, who would become first by being last. So terrified to lose his earthly power was Herod that he didn’t consider that God was actually coming for his heart.
Like the Magi, God calls to each of us with this message of hope, this star of Wonder. What do we have to do to follow? Can we, like the Magi, see enough in the Star to leave behind all that we think we know to search for what we don’t know? Can we step out on the path trusting the star to lead us, without a map, or compass, or GPS system to get us there? What if the others we think should see the truth with us don’t seem to notice? Did the Magi wonder at how few others had seen the star? What if all we understand about the world seems counter to the truth we find? Did the Magi expect to find a child in a castle, rather than a barn?
But the story tells us that Magi knew when their journey was over. The star came to a standstill – and The Magi rejoiced, for they knew they had found what they were seeking. When they entered the stable, scripture says they knelt down, and paid him homage. Whatever it was they saw in Jesus, it humbled their hearts, and moved them to their knees. Notice that there is no more mention of the star after that. Perhaps the Star is the call from God to seek truth, to open our hearts to that which seems impossible in this earthly life of suffering – and that entering the stable is when we glimpse God’s redemptive love for us and we are changed forever. This is the love that opens minds, that expands life, that seeks justice, that can do only good; this is the love that kindles hearts and causes souls to soar. An Epiphany, we call this kind of sudden sight. We no longer need the Star, for we see love as it is: God –With-Us, Emmanuel.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours, Yours are the eyes through which to look out Christ’s compassion to the world. Yours are the feet with which to go about doing good; Yours are the hands with which to bless now. # Teresa of Avila
May 2020 be a year of deepening for all of us – feeling more keenly the presence of the Holy in all that we do – bringing our gifts to the world.
Wishing you much peace in this season of Light!