Today's Lectionary Text
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “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.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
The New Year came in like a bang for some, a whimper for others. As always, I sat and reflected with mixed feelings on what the next year might hold for me, for my community, for the world. I sometimes wonder if we misnamed this holy day. Epiphany makes it sounds like there was an “a-ha” moment in the narrative. You know, as if the wise men moved purposefully into the humble dwelling of Joseph and Mary and just knew on sight that this was exactly what they were looking for. More like an “ha” moment. It was the star, deep listening, faith that led them to believe this was the newborn king, even if it did not live up to their expectations of what it all was supposed to look like.
And this is the beautiful gift of Epiphany: we see glimpses of GOD’s mystery and plan through the life of Jesus. We get it at least a little. We don’t always know what it will look like on the other end and Lord knows I need help releasing my expectations of that - but we know that it will somehow look like Jesus.
When I get hung up on what I think I should be or disappointed when I find that GOD’s way in the world is more patient or less concrete than I demand, my colleague and friend Hugh reminds me: Love always wins in the end. And, if it should look as if love did not win, it only means that it is not yet the end.
This year is full of possibilities. The gospel that pulls us from our graves - so much more powerful than a New Year’s resolution - is ripe in you, in me, in our neighborhoods. Maybe we don’t always know how, who, or where, but we know that faith and hope will lead us to the Jesus who makes us - and all things - new.
Discipleship and Spiritual Life Director
Trinity United Methodist Church
Prayer for Reflection
God of the Stars, you promise to lead me through the dark and you became vulnerable so that you could invite me to create with you. When that call is daunting or my heart is unsure, inspire me with stories of love and call my faith back to you. Amen.
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