Sermon for January 8, 2023 Epiphany “Called to Another Road”
The Magi, observers of all that is celestial and planetary witnessed the appearing of a new star. It’s meaning, they determined was the birth of a child who would be King of the Jews. How did they know this so specifically, we do not know it remains part of the story and give depth and scope to the local and global event which we know of as the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel.
We do not often mention astrology in church and for many it is not part of polite conversation. But I like many glance at my horoscope in the paper and usually go…interesting. I did read an article a week or so ago about evolutionary astrology that looks at the course of planets on general and even specific trends on earth. That there is evidence that the alignment of planets and their subsequent gravitational pulls do impact life on earth. Imagine if you will the proven impact of a full moon on temperament in a galaxy realm. My point is that for a very long time we have been looking to the stars as a way to guide our life on earth.
Arriving in Judea the Magi started asking about the new born king. Little did they know that the highly paranoid Herod was King of Judea and anyone who even thought of dethroning him was in for a world of trouble. Finding the young Jesus, they presented the gifts of gold, frankincense and Myrrh. Warned by an angel, they returned home by another way.
At Christmas we tend to combine all the elements of the Christmas narrative and that is fine. It is also helpful to keep in mind that the events happened over a few years. We also condense the life of Jesus into our liturgical year, even though Jesus lived about 33 years and was in formal mission work for about three.
The text gives us no indication about the impressions of the Magi toward Herod. We do know that they met and that Herod asked them to return so he too could pay homage to the new born king. We do know that we all have Herod’s in our life. Whether they are a person or situation does not matter. For today Herod in our life is a metaphor to describe a time when we know with some degree of certainty that what we are experiencing is not real or has undertones of falsehood and or danger.
I expect you know those moments when your spidey-senses, or intuition or angels break into our consciousness even for a moment to offer us pause. Sometimes we listen and by times we do not. That voice leads us to choose paths that in some instances are of little consequence like what is the quickest line at Sobey’s, and others will lead us toward life or away from living our authentic self. And we all know that our lives are a series of choices some small and some large and they shift over time. We all have Herod’s and angels competing for our attention. And we all have given sway to one or the other in our lives.
We do know that the Magi listened to the angels and that set in motion all kinds of activity. Herod was insanely angry, Mary, Joseph and Jesus fled to Egypt as refugees and the wrath of Herod led to the murder of children to the anguish of parents and family.
Our life’s are filled with choices, this road or that one. And along the way choices to change or keep going. As we lean into Epiphany may we know that the paths and roads we have chosen have brought us right here, both literally and faithfully. For me the delightful thing about choices is that even in the challenging ones, time has let me view them as positive for getting me here in live and in faith. Ahhhh or Aha is my joyful prayer as I ponder the paths taken and pray for wise angels for the roads to choose today and tomorrow. Oh and we might just say that the stars have aligned…or…that prayer and faith do make a difference.