Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year! In this last week of the 2022 calendar year, we are celebrating the 12 days of Christmas at the Harris house. Each day is a mini-celebration! It's also my birthday week, so you can see how easy it is for me to claim the whole week as a celebration. This Sunday, JANUARY 1st, we will have ONE WORSHIP SERVICE AT 10 AM. We will gather in the Sanctuary and share the story of the Magi and their search for the baby King.
(Read Matthew 2:1-12.) Come and join in worship with us!
In the story from Matthew, we read about the Magi who are nameless. Only later and from other christian traditions do their names appear: Balthazar, Casper, and Melchior. They brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. It is not clear exactly when they showed up in Bethlehem. Matthew implies sometime after the birth of Jesus and sometime before Herod ordered all male children under age two to be killed. One thing is clear, God's light in Christ was a guide for them in their journey. And the direction of their travel was keenly directed by the light of a special star.
For me the message of the Wise Men has many nuances, none so inviting as the invitation to a direction for commitment. They had to make a large investment in their journey. Time, energy, resources. We hear about their gifts, but what about their entourage? After all they were nobility. Would they have been just three men traveling on camels? I don't think so. I bet there were baggage handlers, animal caretakers, tent crews, waterboys, star chart assistants, and a security detail. I believe they and their trail partners were fully committed to finding what they saw in their mystic revelation as something new. They were seekers of something new to be found in an unknown baby king. They came from the nations surrounding Judah. Part of the story is that they probably came from Babylon, Persia, and maybe even India. From the east they traveled following a star making a very long journey in search of Christ. They were committed. They were directed.
After the twelve days of Christmas, we celebrate Epiphany on January 6th. A manifestation of a divine being (Christ) to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi. Epiphanies are triggered by a new piece of information causing a new understanding of some previous knowledge. If you make the leap with me here, let's go to Isaiah 60:1-6 and read about the prophet's vision of the restoration of Israel. "Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn." "A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord." A vision of redemption is the prophet's hope. And we Christians claim that redemption in Jesus Christ, the Light of God.
Direction and Commitment are words I will use in my faith journey into a new year. I hope you find a sudden and striking manifestation, an epiphany of God's love and grace this new year. The direction we seek is provided. The commitment we make is up to each of us Along the Way.
Author: Paul E Harris
Journal posts from a pastor and spiritual friend