Last Sunday gave us an invitation to rejoice with Simeon and Anna (the faithful people of God in the temple) over a “God-sighting,” as they saw the very face of God in the person of the baby Jesus. This Sunday is a reminder that there are also those who are “on the way” to seeing Jesus. And maybe God’s way of helping them see Jesus (and know they have been found by Him, the Lord of the nations) is to put you and me in their path.
One of the major players in our text for this Sunday is a star. The star first appears to people who would have been familiar with stars in antiquity, people called “Magi.” That star was a sign to them that an important king, One who would be “King of the Jews,” had been born (2:2). But these original seekers end up where any self-respecting king of Israel could be expected to live: the center of the political and religious scene for Israel in the city of Jerusalem. That was where the earthly king Herod ruled. It is only after consulting the religious leaders of Jerusalem and hearing what the Scriptures said about the birth of this King in a different town…Bethlehem…that these seekers continued their journey. The star then went before them until it led them to the place where Jesus was! As St. Matthew tells the story, it is clear that God sent the star. God used what would have been familiar to these star-gazers and dream interpreters to open their hearts to receive His righteous reign among them. You might even say that the Magi were, in a sense, “found” by God as (or even before) they had gone looking for Jesus!
Many years ago when I had gotten away from the Church I saw a kind of “star”…or maybe it was a constellation of stars. Those stars were a group of people along the street in Oslo, Norway, who handed out Christian tracts to me as I wandered along the open road in Europe with friends of mine from high school. I had been baptized as an infant and raised in a Christian home. But like so many of my peers I had turned away from all of that as an adult. To this day I can still remember how these kind folks could not speak my language or connect with me directly…but their love for me and others like me that put them on that street corner welcomed me to again receive the love of God who had found me and still had His eye on me, as His child. There was, of course, still the need for the Scriptures and true Christian leaders to show me the way home. But the light of these stars that God put in my life demonstrated that God had found me and was drawing me closer to Himself.
People all around us are seeking the King of Life. Could it be that God has already found them, and has put you and me as a constellation of stars before them, to lead them “home” to Bethlehem? Let’s pray for people we know whom God might be calling us to invite to church…or to a church activity…where they may more meaningfully encounter Him. If the journey of faith were compared to a game of “hide-and-seek” it is, in the end, God who seeks. Praise be to God on this Epiphany and first Sunday in 2019 that, in Christ Jesus, it is also God who finds!