Follow Your Star

Matthew 2:1-12

Today, we celebrate the feast of Epiphany….we are a couple days early, it is actually, January 6, the twelfth day of Christmas…Epiphany, the day of illumination and encounter with God, is the day of the magi, the wise men from the East, who came to visit young Jesus and his parents; the foreigners who gave gifts to the One who would change the world, bringing light and healing to darkness…

I like “once upon a time stories”…and this is a “once upon a time” story.

“Once upon a time” light shined. No one but God and the angelic host was there to observe it as 14 billion years ago, light burst forth, giving birth to our universe. In that tiny speck of energy lay the hopes and dreams of countless galaxies and this good earth. From that great birth, billions of years later, our planet emerged, energized and guided by a gentle, but persistent creative wisdom.

We are children of that moment, long ago and faraway. We are star-stuff. We are the children of stars and stars still intrigue us. In less than two weeks, three generations of Epperly’s go to Disney World and I’ve been humming that song from Pinocchio, “When you wish a star, it makes no difference who you are, anything your heart desires, will come to you.”

“Once upon a time” there was a great star and it shone brightly in the sky.

Do you ever look up at the sky and notice the stars? Are you ever amazed by what you see?

“Once upon a time,” some very wise men – and perhaps there were women, too – saw a star, and were excited. They believed it meant something great would happen; a special child would be born, who would change everything.

Have you ever gone on a long trip? A trip to visit someplace special and to see someone special? How did you feel?

I suspect the magi were excited. They didn’t know what to expect but they followed a star and a light that guided their path.

It took a long time – maybe three years – and on a camel. When you took a long trip, how did you feel after a while? And did you ask “are we there yet?”

I ask that question, and I may ask it again when I get to Logan this afternoon to fly to Washington DC. I ask that question when I have to wait at the airport, or I’m stuck in a traffic jam, or drive a long way with my two grandchildren. “When will we get there?”

So “once upon a time,” wise men and women traveled a long way, riding on camels…They were strangers, probably from Iran, wearing strange but regal clothes, and when they got to Jerusalem, the capital city of Judea, people probably wondered, “Who are these people? Why have they come here? And, what gives them the right to tell us that a special child has been born?”

It was shocking that a stranger would know something about God they didn’t – and scandalous that they were from of another religion.

And yet, “once upon a time,” strangers from the East, from a different faith, a religion celebrating light, followed a star and found a young child, who will save the world, not by power, but by love and whose love will embrace everyone.

And, today, in our own “once upon a time” world, we celebrate those who look at the sky, discover a star, and then go on a journey.

Each of us is born under a star, and guided by a star, the youngest and the oldest, the friend and the stranger.

Our star is our dream. It is what wakes us up in the morning with hope and joy, and energy and expectation.

Do you have a dream? Do you follow a star? You know our Jewish friends have a phrase, “mazel tov,” which means “may you have good stars.” And whether you are 3 or a 103, a star can guide you.

Today, there are magi, wise women and men, and there are stars, lots of them, guiding each of us. Let us follow the stars God has placed in our lives. Let us have a big dream for ourselves and for our church, an almost impossible dream; God’s dream, the dream of our Savior, the Christ, who is here; the one whose star guides us forward Arise shine, your light has come….follow your star.

Mazel tov, may you be good starred…..