Today we heard the story of the wise men visiting Jesus. It’s a story that is very familiar to us. The men followed a star to see what it was pointing to. The followed it until they reached the Holy Family. Next week we will hear of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus and with next Sunday, the liturgical season of Christmas will be over.
Christmas 2015 is now in our family history books. We made our favorite recipes, lovingly touched the sentimental decorations. We got together with family and friends. We listened to oh so familiar scripture.
Many of us have taken the ornaments off the tree and wrapped them in tissue before putting them away in the box. We have put away Santa cookie plates and candy cane holders and Rudolph. We have put away our Christmas DVD’s, although I will confess to watching White Christmas with Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby all throughout the year!
What can’t be put away, what shouldn’t be put away are the Christmas Scripture stories. They aren’t just part of the package of Christmas, like the shopping and the baking and all the pretties. If we do that, then that relegates Scripture to a history book, a text book, and a not very accurate one at that. But these stories have lasted for 2,000 years.
All of the people who have gone before us, our spiritual ancestors heard these same stories and thought enough of them to keep them alive all these years. It is our turn now, our time in history, to keep these stories alive and relevant.
As I put away Holy Family’s Advent wreath and removed the four used candles, I took a moment to reflect on all the times we were together before Christmas .
Let’s remember how we have kept the seasons of Advent and Christmas. During Advent we changed the color we used in our worship from green to deep blues and violets. We talked of the mountains and valleys we have created in our lives that get in the way of our being able to truly live the full life we were created to live.
We heard of John the Baptist who helped folks reclaim their lives by preaching to them yes, but also to symbolically wash away their failings in the Jorden River. We celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation to do the very thing our Jewish ancestors did when they walked into the water, to get a do over. We lit candles to mark off the weeks until Jesus, the light of the world, was born. Christmas came, and we gathered here to celebrate, and oh, what a celebration. It was a night when heaven and earth met. Our Holy Family choir lovingly deepened our celebration with their beautiful music.
And today we hear of a star, a star, a light that was so compelling that people had to follow it. They followed the light of that star not knowing what the final destination was going to be. What did they do during the day when the star wasn’t shining? Did they set up camp and wait for the star to shine again? Or was the urge to find what the star was so strong that they just kept walking and trusted they were being led in the right direction?
Another question. Was that star only meant for those folks 2,000 years ago? Was that the only star that has ever beckoned people to follow? Or, was that just the first one?
Is there a star calling you? Calling us? What star do you think could be calling you? What star will you follow this year?
Will you follow the star of taking care of yourself, of eating healthy and exercising? Will you follow the star to carve out more time, more Sabbath time to rest and reflect? Will you follow the star of using your unique gifts and to live your life that is true to who you are? Have you taken the time to even figure out your gifts? How about following the star of self-realization? Of really looking at yourself, finding your gifts and calling them holy.
Here is a star that I feel is calling all of us at Holy Family, this is what we are walking towards. I mentioned last week I would like a church building that we could call our own. We are so appreciative of the communities that have opened their hearts and their homes for us to gather and pray, but like any youngster in any family who want to move out and get a place of their own, well, we are that youngster!
I would like to see us in the next two or three weeks to organize a book club and read several of Bishop John Selby Spong’s books in preparation for him speaking here at ALUUC.
If you aren’t familiar with Bishop Spong, he is a Bishop in the Episcopal Church and has written many, many books. Here are some titles of his books. “Why Christianity must change or die” “Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism” “Born of a Woman. A bishop rethinks the virgin birth and the treatment of women in a male dominated church.” Have I whetted your appetite?
I would like to see us form a knitting circle where we gather to knit or crochet prayer shawls for those in our families or community who are suffering from sickness. I would like to see us gather for potlucks after Mass so we can visit and truly get to know one another.
I would like to get all of us registered to get addresses and birthdays and emails so we could keep in touch with one another on a more personal basis than Facebook or the web page. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!
I want to get a minister schedule going, for you to sign up to lector or usher, or bake communion bread or to be greeters or cantor, or sing in the choir or to be a Eucharistic minister and on and on. We all minister to one another just like we do in our families.
I guess all of this could sound like New Year’s resolutions, hmm? But I think these go deeper, these are instinctual things, these are life sustaining things.
There isn’t a thing wrong with New Year’s resolutions, don’t misunderstand. But those seem to be easy to toss by the wayside; they don’t have the gravitas of following that star. Finding who you are, uncovering gifts, ministering to your community, those are some heavy duty stars.
See, that’s the great thing about community. We do things together.
None of us have to be on this journey by ourselves. And when we need help seeing the light or the path has shadows, we have a community to help us through those times. If we can’t see the star of our own goodness, we have a community to help us do that.
Let’s make a pact among ourselves.
To revisit this question of “What star did you follow?” Next Epiphany to see how we did. To see what star or stars we followed, how we kept the light from being put into the box of Christmas decorations to be stored away until next year.
The star beckons. You want to follow?