Matthew 2:1-12
Jesus our guiding star

We have entered into yet another year in our lives. Like most years we have all experienced good and bad times, as well as sad and uncertain times. 2008 seemed like a year filled with so many earth-shaking events that when it came to my personal life I felt rather insignificant. To recall a few, Kosovo declared independence, Russia and Georgia went to war, China experienced one of its worse natural disasters and also hosted the most spectacular Olympics, the world financial market saw its worst downturn since the great depression, and the first black man was elected to the most powerful office on earth. We cannot help but be drawn to and awed by power of any sort, whether it be natural like the earthquake in China, economic like the world financial market, political like the Presidential office of our country, and religious power like that of the Popes’ or someone like Pastor Rick Warren.

So naturally, even the wise men from the East go searching for the newborn king in the royal palace. I am sure the wise men from the East were confused that there was no new baby amongst the royal family of Herod as they had expected. But amazingly they do not give up their search for the newborn king. As soon as they step away from the seat of power in Jerusalem and decide to continue their search, they once again see the special star that they had seen at its rising. The wise men follow the star and it stops over the place where the child is.

By the time of the wise men’s visit, Mary and Joseph had found a place to stay and Jesus was no longer a small baby. Joseph was a carpenter so I would imagine the holy family did not live in some impressive house in an impressive neighborhood in Bethlehem. Remember, Joseph and Mary were not even natives of Bethlehem, they had moved from Nazareth, so, in all likelihood they lived in a rented home struggling to make ends meet in a new town. In other words, there was nothing externally visible about the Holy family that would have marked them as extraordinary. Joseph, Mary and Jesus were living as ordinary citizens amongst the people of Bethlehem, when the wise men found them. But when the star stopped over their humble home the wise men believed in the promise of the new King being there. Regardless of what the surroundings were, and as far away from worldly power and influence as Mary and Joseph were, the wise men still chose to believe that the child in that humble home was the promised King. They were able to see way beyond the worldly circumstances of insignificance and the mundane. In that home of Joseph and Mary stripped of any worldly influence and power, the wise men acknowledge and believe that the child they meet is indeed the promised King. And as if to affirm their faith, they have a dream that night where they are warned not to return to Herod, so instead they take another road to return home.

What we feel as not significant enough is not necessarily how God sees our lives. What makes our lives significant or important is not how powerful or influential we are in this world, it is how we choose to see God working in our lives. We can see the special star amongst the billions of stars only if we continue to seek faithfully. The special star of God’s guidance and presence may not lead us to places of worldly honor and prestige, but if we continue in faith God will lead us to places of far greater significance within God’s Kingdom. Mary and Joseph lived a humble life, with nothing but a single vision of an angel having given them the promise of their child being the Messiah. Nowhere does it say that God magically gave them a luxurious home or a prestigious job for Joseph, they were so insignificant in that small town that no one in Herod’s palace knew about them. Mary and Joseph had no special perks for being the parents of the Messiah, instead God used people like the wise men from the East to affirm His promise to them of their chosen child. Not only was the visit from the wise men affirming of God’s promise, in their gifts God provided for Mary and Joseph the means for them to flee to Egypt, protecting them from harm.

My dear brothers and sisters, the promise of Emmanuel, God with us is the greatest and the most significant promise in our lives. Nothing about our lives is ordinary or insignificant anymore because God has chosen to be incarnate amongst us in Jesus Christ. We now have the opportunity to claim our place as God’s own children and live our lives with the purpose and faith that God calls us to. As we begin a New Year, may we all learn to be attuned to God’s guiding star in our lives, who is Jesus. In our ordinary lives may we learn to behold the extraordinary presence of God in the places we walk, in the places we work, amongst the people we live and communicate with, within our selfish thoughts and emotions, in all our weaknesses and failings. May God give us the humility to shed our prejudices so that we can be free to worship God and behold His face in places and with people we would normally not be drawn to. May God give us the willingness to take another road if need be to find our way home. Amen.