Follow the light
Matthew 2: 1-12 (NIVUK)
1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written:
6 ‘“But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.”’
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.’
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
The wise folk who came to find Jesus all those years ago were both very wise and not at all. They saw in the sky a star and using their knowledge and faith were able to interpret it to mean that a great person would be born. They came a long way to find Jesus, who knows if they started together or wound up together but by the time they reached Jerusalem there will likely have been a lot of them. Our sweet nativity scenes with three men in crowns and a single camel are not the most realistic image of what it would take to go on such a journey. It would have looked more like a strange family trip or a trade delegation, off to meet a new power in the world. They looked carefully at the star but even with their wisdom they did not see everything they needed to, speaking too openly to the vicious Herod. As a result Herod killed many children and Jesus became a refugee.
We are not those wise folks and we probably don’t have a star to follow across the world to see a baby but we can take something from their quest and journey into our own lives. A light of possibility entered their sights and they did not turn away, they didn’t think ‘Oh that’s too hard and too far,’ they said ‘Yes God, I will go to you’. They found what was under the star and worshipped.
What are we looking at this new year as we start to return to the rhythms of life? Is there a shimmer of possibility that you have been meaning to grasp? A shining sign which you need an extra nudge to follow and look underneath? For although the wise folks did not get everything right as they journeyed, they took the leap and God leapt with them, into a plan that they could never have foreseen and a life filled with wonder as they stared at that little baby.
God of stars and wonder,
Help us to follow you wherever you lead
Show us the possibility you hold for our lives
Please give us the strength, help and wisdom we need to fulfil it
Keep us in your story God, guide us to your side.