In the Days of Stars and Kings

Those other days, those ancient days, were not the only days of stars and angels and kings. O, no. We too are living in such a time as this. Here’s how Luke tells the tale of that far away day. “WHEN Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? We have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.’ King Herod was troubled when he heard this, and all Jerusalem with him. Herod called in the chief priests and scribes, asking where the Christ was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, as the prophet writes: You, O Bethlehem [which means House of Bread], are by no means least among the rulers of Judah. From you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.’ Herod summoned the wise men secretly to learn the time the star appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child, and when you find him bring me word, so I may come and worship him, too.’”

 Hold up on the angels for now. Let’s talk stars and kings. Lord knows, we got our share too. But our stars (cf. the Magi’s) seem not to dispel much darkness. The Bethlehem star seems to split the sky. For the Magi, at least, it lights not just the way forward, but their hearts and minds, too. Not so, so many of our modern-day stars. Ours are not so much in the sky any more. They flicker on screens from pocket-size to super-size. They bellow from the radio, glitter on the airwaves. So many, from the classroom to the bar room seem to know… everything. But they seem to understand hardly anything. The result, we walk around in the dark…alot! It’s like modern-day starlight has been “dumbed down” on a dimmer switch. (The Mayans don’t know what day it is; the congress can’t decide what year it is; and we can’t tell what time it is, in whether to live like believers or act like the not-so-sure.) As for kings, on that score, the ancients and ourselves have no trouble comparing notes. Herod thought himself in charge. Not cf. Rome. Not even cf. a kid-King, manger-bedded and cross-headed. He’d assassinate his challengers, even when his own children. He preferred power, was patron to his friends (Temple = 24 FB Fields, 145 acres), without mercy those he suspected/rejected.

‘Looks like what we see/hear on the news, at work, even in churches.

When Jesus comes to us, you can hear them all, then to now, saying, “When you find this new-born king, bring me word, I wanna worship him, too.” NOT! Not then. Not now. Truth is, all Jerusalem was abuzz. Troubled. (A Savior always troubles sinners.)

Hear what happened next! “When the magi heard the king they went their way; and the star in the East went before them, til it came to rest over where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly (neither troubled nor afraid); they went into the house, saw the child with Mary his mother, fell down and worshiped him. They opened their treasures, ‘offered him gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh. Dreamwarned not to return to Herod, they departed home another way.”

I love that story. ‘Enough to wanna live it! And invite others to come along. How about you? I love the star for its light that splits the often-darkness in my heart and in my life. You? I like that it points me to a mysterious manger, a baby wrapped more in the mystery of God-in-the-flesh than in mere swaddling clothes. I adore that the wisest thing about the wise men is they can admit what they don’t know, adore what they can hardly understand and change their way on a dreamy word, angel spoken and baby-faced! Will you dare to that? It moves me that these souls were actively seeking to see God. ‘Know God. ‘Even when likely no longer “spring chickens”. (I need to hear that, but not you, I’m sure!) And after they’d tried everything from star-gazing to gizzard-stirring to philosophy, they were willing to be led to Bethlehem (the House of Bread), where they found what they were looking for.

A friend reminds me God sends both the Angel and the Star, come Christmas. ‘Because God always meets us where we are. Angels to the unsuspecting and non-demanding to awaken them to glory. Some of us need exactly this. To us seekers, intent on our own way, do-it-ourselves wanna-be-saints, comes the star. The night-splitter. The dark-lifter that says, “You can’t get there on your own, and don’t have to. God’s looking for you, as you’re looking for God!” And when the kings of the ages, then to now, pretend to power, might or matter-more-than-we, don’t you just love as I (and Mother Mary, according to Luke) that God scatters the proud in the imagination of their hearts?! Angels, stars and kings alike speak and hear the word, (Isa.) “Arise, shine, your light has come. The glory of the Lord rises upon you. Darkness may cover the earth, thick darkness, but the Lord rises on you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”

This morning, 1ce more we look on the manger, however we got here. But like the Magi, we're invited to go home by Another Road. This morning we're Star-invited to Bethlehem, the House of Bread, but dream-directed to leave in a way different than we came. In this house, we serve the Bread of Life, scribed in an infant face, offered by cross-creased hands. We bring this table to you where you are, so you can go home by a different way than you came.

Leave every illness that eats at you, body or soul.
Leave the hurt and the pain others bring you; or you, others.
Leave the guilt of your sin.
Take the Forgiven/Forgiving Road, The Healing Road.

You live in the Day of the Star of Stars, spoken to by the Angel of all Angels, fed by the King of all Kings! You… You…YOU!

 

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