Traveling by Starlight – Jan. 3, 2021

Traveling by Starlight

A Communion Meditation by Rev. Karen A. Mendes

Matt 2:1-12

Jan. 3, 2021

Main Idea –  We are led by the light of Christ

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight O Lord, our strength and our redeemer.  Amen.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away there lived scientists, whose job it was to study the stars.  Their community counted on them to read the stars and warn them about any dangers approaching or important events about to happen.  These Scientists were very good at their job and very dedicated.  One day they saw a new star so wonderful and amazing that they put aside all the rest of their work to focus only on this new important discovery.  They were captivated by it, completely mesmerized by its beauty and unique characteristics.   They determined that this star was a portent; a sign that a new king had been born in a distant land.  This king would be the savior of the world.  The scientists decided that they needed to find this king.  They left their homes, their jobs, their community, everything that they knew to follow this star, to find this new king. 

Now these scientists, while very smart and knowledgeable about stars, were rather naive about people and power.  After a very long journey, they arrived in the capital city of a distant nation.  They went right up to the palace of the King and asked “Where is the child who has been born King of the Jews?  For we observed his star at its rising and have come to pay him homage.”   The scientists were surprised to learn that there was no new baby in the palace.  And they were puzzled by the King’s questions to them.  Everybody seemed so afraid when the scientists told them of their important scientific discovery.   They wanted to know when the star had appeared but nobody seemed to want to look at it or to admire its beauty.  The scientists left the capital and journeyed to the little town the king had suggested.  The star seemed to travel ahead of them and finally it stopped over a small house.  Inside the house the scientists were elated to find a young family; a mother, a father, and a baby boy.  They gave the family precious gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  The scientists stayed with the family for a few days and then they did not follow the king’s instructions to return to the capital city.  Having been warned in a dream, they returned to their homes by another road.

Once upon a time, in a land far away, there lived a king.  He was a cunning and powerful ruler who very carefully controlled his small kingdom in the shadow of a mighty empire.  He was not descended from the kings of old but had won his throne through his work for the mighty empire and his ruthless elimination of rivals.  He was feared by his people and admired by the neighboring rulers for his ability to raise money and quell unrest.  One day strangers appeared at his palace.  They asked “Where is the child who had been born King of the Jews?  For we observed his star at its rising and have come to pay him homage.”  The King was outraged, and frightened (although he wouldn’t show it!), for he recognized that a dangerous adversary might have arisen.   He called his councilors together and asked them where they thought an agitator of the people might be born.  They told him of a prophesy about a little town known as the birthplace of the Kings of old.   The king hated to think about the Kings of old.  He decided to use the strangers for his own plan.  “Why don’t you go and find the child and then let me know exactly where he is so that we too can come and give him the welcome he deserves.  Oh yeah, and when did the star appear?  How old do you think this child is now?”  Once the strangers left the king laughed, “Those fools will lead the way and I will be able to easily remove this “little” threat.  No star or prophesy will defeat me.” But as he waited for the strangers’ return, the king’s anger and anxiety grew.

Once upon a time, there lived a small family.  They seemed much like any other family; a father, a mother, and a young son, but this family had begun in an unusual way:  they had been brought together by the work of angels.  These parents knew that their child was special, a gift from God who was destined to do great things.  One day strangers knocked on their door.  They were scientists from a distant land who had been guided by a star to their home, their child!  They were overwhelmed by the scientists’ gifts and their claims about their child.  He was to be a King?  the Savior of the World?!  The parents were honored and fearful about what this would mean for their son.  They welcomed the scientists into their home.  They gazed together at the beautiful star and pondered what the future would hold for them all.   When the scientists told them of the King’s interest in their child, they were very afraid for they knew the king was a cruel and jealous ruler.  They were relieved when the scientists decided to go home without returning to the capital city.  Their child would be safe for a little while longer.

Once upon a time there lived a church community.  They gathered, sometimes in person, sometimes virtually, every week to pray and sing and hear the Scriptures.  They knew all the best Scripture stories by heart and they loved to ponder them and imagine themselves in the stories.  They loved the Christmas stories most of all.   They knew that there was power in these texts; that the birth of the Christ child, God Incarnate, changed everything.  They knew that pagan scientists bringing homage to this little child meant that the Good News of God’s love was for everyone in the whole world.  They knew that the cruel King’s fear of this little child meant that the kingdom of God would be unlike any kingdom on earth; built on love and justice and grace rather than violence and might.   They knew that the love these parents had for their child was just like the love they felt for their own families.  This church community loved these stories and lived out their lessons.  They spread the Good News of God’s love.  They worked for justice and peace.  They cared for those in need. 

On this Communion Sunday, this Epiphany Sunday, this first Sunday of the New Year, may we be mesmerized by the light of Christ, shining through the darkness and drawing us to love and to service.  May our lives be stories of the light of Christ moving in this world.  As we prepare our heart and minds for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper let us pray.

Incarnate God, we are humbled and in awe of your love for us.  We are inspired by the passion and dedication of the Magi to search for you in unfamiliar places and people.  We confess that we are sometimes afraid of the changes your will might bring to our lives but we cling to the love with which you shower us.  Embolden us and be with us now and always.  Amen.