Thursday, January 6, 2011

Led By the Star

Happy Epiphany everyone!

Today marks the first day after the Christmas season.

Today, my family will finally begin the process of taking down all the Christmas decorations.

And we will remember the wise men who were led by the star to seek the King of kings.

There is a lesson (probably more than one) to be learned by the wise men as told in the book of Matthew.

They saw God's hand revealed in the events of everyday life.

Yes, we put a little spin on the story as told in the Gospel.  We like to think of a star which shone brighter than any other star.  Larger and more extravagant, it led the way for those wise men.  Perhaps we get such images from the hymns which are sung around Christmas: "The First Noel"; "We Three Kings"; "Brightest and Best of the Stars of the Morning".

But that's not exactly what Scripture says.  It does say the wise men saw the star at its rising.  It does say that star guided them to Bethlehem.  But it doesn't say anything about such a star being larger or more fantastic than any other star in the sky.  Common sense tells us that if such a star appeared, more than just these wise men would have been able to see it.  The star probably was no more significant than any other star in the sky, but there was something about it which caused these men to take notice.  There was something about it that made these men know it was a special star which sent a special message.  As students of the stars, they recognized something that others missed, and they became curious--curious enough to leave what they normally did and take a life-altering trip.

One of my concerns as a pastor and person of faith is whether or not folks continue to see God's hand in the events of life.  So often, I think we live in distraction.  So often, I think our minds and hearts are either on auto-pilot as we go through the daily routine or are distracted by phones, texts, emails, music, and (dare I say it) blogging.  We allow ourselves to be completely enthralled by these things, and we miss the little signs and wonders which call our attention to the holy in our midst.

Can you imagine what the Christmas story would be like if the wise men missed seeing the star because they were so focused on playing the latest Wii game or had their heads buried in their "smart" phones texting right and left?  Can you imagine the Christmas story without them leaving all behind to give gifts to the Christ-child?  I mean, somehow purchasing gold, frankincense and myrrh on Amazon and having it shipped to Bethlehem doesn't quite convey the importance and urgency of visiting the newborn King, does it? 

How often do we run across events in our lives which take us to another level?  The level of faith?  How often do we have little things--not grandiose, smack you between the eyes revelations--that call us toward a life of faithfulness; that change our direction for a while; that help us stay committed to our calling to serve God and love our neighbor as we love ourselves?

This morning, I was struck by my oldest daughter.  She's just turned six.  She's in that state where she can't decide whether or not she wants to be Miss Independent or have mommy and daddy do everything for her.  If my wife and I happen to guess wrongly, Katy, bar the door.  It isn't pretty. 

We were getting ready for school, moments away from leaving.  My wife was turning lights off in the house, and she turned the playroom light off.  My oldest just happened to be in that room searching for a book to "read" as she went to school.  When the lights went out, it scared my daughter for some reason.  She panicked.  Crying, she clamored for a hug.  Stopping the routine of trying to get all the kids loaded up, I wrapped my arms around her.  For that moment, she felt safe and secure.  She felt reassured.  Her fear subsided.  She paused a moment at the top step of the door to leap out and head for the car.

How easy it would have been to tell my daughter to get over it and go sit in her car seat.  How easy it would have been to stay with the routine.  But to take the time and stop.  To take the time to hug.  To take the time to realize this is an important part of life--a holy moment. 

Nothing earth shattering. 

Nothing to change the political winds. 

Nothing to eradicate hunger or poverty. 

But significant. 


To one little girl and her father. 

An Epiphany. 

A revelation. 

God is in our midst. 

Easing fear.

Wrapping His arms around us.

Sharing love.

Giving strength.


Break the routine.

Notice God.

In the little things.

Like a hug.

Like a child.

Like a star.

Happy Epiphany, everyone.

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