“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose,
and we have come to worship him.”
The Star of Bethlehem had a point, an important point. But the star was not the point.
The star fulfilled its role of leading across cultures and religious paradigms, down dusty roads and around a paranoid prince, to the Child. He was the Point, this Son, and he shone brighter. He, the Child-King, deserved adoration from all peoples, in all languages, for all of time.
And the Church, like the star, has a point. But the Church is not the point. Jesus is.
The star inspired a journey, away from comfort and the great “known.” So may the Church.
The star led through danger and politically dicey situations. So has the Church, historically, and so does the Church, presently.
The star challenged prejudice, inviting outsiders in. So may the Church.
The star incited worship, but not of itself. So may the Church.
As we celebrate the incarnation of Hope,
the birth of the Lamb who was slain before the foundations of the world,
let us pray for the Church, his glorious Bride, who waits expectantly for his return
and the restoration of all things.
May your Bride, O Christ, rise like the star, guiding people to their King.
May your Church remember that, in leading people to You, it may lead them into danger, both before they find you and afterwards.
May your Church inspire people to start journeying towards Jesus, no matter how long or treacherous that path might be. May the Church show a clear path to you. Not necessarily safe, but clear.
May your Church encourage people to do things they weren’t planning to do, like forgive, or give, or go.
May your Church draw people from distant lands, astrologers and pagans from cultures distinct and different. And after introducing the Savior, may your Church allow them to return to the places they’re from, knowing that when they return, they go forever changed, having bowed to the King.
May the first Star of Bethlehem shatter into a million pieces, not breaking, but multiplying into galaxies of stars that light up the world, churches calling men and women from every corner of the planet, to come and see this thing you have done, this story for the ages.
May your Church be ever diverse, with layers of cultures and languages, colors and fragrances, incomes and social standings, shepherds and sages, all circled around Jesus, giving their gifts. May they be One, Father.
May your Church revel in the joy of others as they bring their gifts to Jesus.
May your Church, the Bride of Christ, stand strong as a bright and pure witness to the passionate Love of God, made clear through the Son, Jesus. A guiding light to those who would seek you, their King.
May your Spirit, O God, be with your people. Amen.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”
King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”
“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:
‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah,
for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’”
Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”
After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.