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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Matthew 2:1–12

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, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’” 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. (NRSV)

I don’t think there is anything in this world that I am hoping for, waiting for, or expecting enough to set out on a long journey merely based on the flimsy evidence of some star rising. But that’s what the wise men did. They saw something in that star. Something apparently no one else saw. Were they the only ones really looking? Did they have some special knowledge or piece of technology that let them see what that star held? I can’t quite put my finger on the way in which God moved them.

Or perhaps it was just a star that didn’t really mean anything, but it caught their eye and they’d been looking for an excuse to hit the road so they did. What if they just set out on a big journey for the journey of it and found their way to Jesus in the process? That sounds more like us to me. We encounter Christ alive in the world just by virtue of being out and about in this world. Like neighbors with dogs that need walking get to know each other more than neighbors who sit inside all of the time.

I know the dream that sent the wise men home by another way was to keep them away from a jumpy and dangerous Herod, but I also hope that it inspired another journey toward God that they weren’t expecting. Which way home will you go today?

May we venture out into this world of ours and encounter the unexpected Christ. Guide our feet, gracious God, and show us the stars to guide our way. Amen.

Written by Alex Wirth, Minister for Evangelism

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