In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
‘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.’”
Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
~ Matthew 2:1-12 (NRSV)
Christ's first presentation to the Gentiles is recorded in the Wise Men's visit!
2020 was a year of revelations - not the least of which was how broken our society is. With every disclosure and report of lies and malfeasance, of open racism and virulent privilege, of systemic injustice impacting illness, infections and death, I felt my faith slowly receding until I was left feeling empty. I still had hope, somehow, that we could work together to reclaim a just and honorable society - though I have no doubt that we have lots of work ahead of us.
I'm grateful that I'm surrounded by friends and family who support each other and honestly try to do the right thing, even if they make a mistake. I feel as though we're all waiting but for what? How does God appear to us today? Will we recognize that epiphany when it happens?
My hope is that we will find ourselves in an expectant season of epiphanies - that we see kindness reappear, that justice will be done, that people will recover purpose in their lives, that we begin to see the worth of every human, that life is once again valued, and that we may all experience some measure of peace in our souls.
I believe that season has begun We must be attentive, like the magi. We must have integrity as they do. We must look for the signs that God is present - among us, with us, in us - showing us grace and mercy.
Gracious and loving God, we are so tired. We are worn down and weary. Strengthen us, awaken us, heal us, recharge us with a vision of who we can be as your people. Overwhelm us, Lord. Reveal yourself to each one of us according to our need. Let us see what is good in one another. Let us have firmness and patience with those who pursue greed and power. Let us work for justice, for peace, for joy - in the strong name of your son, Jesus. Amen.
Barbara Vaughan, MDiv
Class of 2011