“And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.” (Matthew 2:6)
Greetings St. Philip’s UCC!
Twelve days after Christmas, it isn’t a partridge in a pear tree that we celebrate, but rather the coming of the wise ones to see Jesus by following a bright star. Epiphany is the season of seeking to wisely discern the movement of God in the world and boldly following the illumination of God’s light as we work to build God’s kingdom of love and grace here and now.
When the wise ones saw a new star, they came to king Herod to inquire about the new king. The religious leaders tell Herod that the prophecies say that this new king will come to “shepherd my people Israel.” But instead of celebrating that a really incredible king who will take really good care of the people (like a shepherd who cares for their sheep) is coming—instead of celebrating that this could be a sign that really good things are on the horizon for the Israelite people, who are currently under Roman occupation—instead of celebrating, Herod is filled with fear. Fear that he will lose his power and position.
Surely, there are no Herods left in the world, two thousand years later, right? No one who allows fear of losing their own position or power or status or authority to cause them to try to throw a wrench in the good things God is doing in the world. No one who would let fear cloud over their better judgment to love.
The wise ones, who weren’t part of the Israelite community, who didn’t know about the God of love and grace, followed the star, offered gifts to Jesus, and listened to the whisper of the Holy Spirit to not report back to Herod. These wise ones were transformed by the movement of God in the world—a star, the Christ child, guidance from the Spirit in a dream.
Indeed, may we follow the example of the wise ones, and lean into what God is up to in the world. May we be on the lookout for Herods, whose fear holds them back from participating in God’s good work in the world, or worse, tries to stop it. May we wisely watch for the movement of the Holy Spirit in our midst, and may the light of Christ’s love guide us as we journey together into a new year, boldly committing to continue building God’s kingdom of love and grace right here, right now.
Epiphany blessings, friends!
Peace and Prayers,