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Sermon Notes

Grace and Peace-

The text for today is the story of the Wise Men, who traveled to Bethlehem by the light of the great star.

The star beckoned them; they came by its draw.

They came, the poet T.S. Eliot suggests, in perhaps not a great time of the year- “Just the worst” time of it.

They traveled, scholars think, not for a few days or weeks to get to the Stable, but for up to three years—and then three back.

They were drawn powerfully.

They were drawn completely . . .

And in and through by that draw, they were transformed by it.

The kings were wealthy.  As they came to the stable, they offered substantial  portions of that wealth- gold, frankincense, and myrrh.   Their gifts foreshadow the gift of the widow, whose token was all she had, and all she gave.  They foreshadow the story Jesus will tell of the Pearl of Great Price—the parable that paints a picture of the Kingdom that is so great, it is worth giving up everything we have for. 

T.S. Eliot suggest that the kings were so transformed by Bethlehem, in their return to their kingdoms the were “no longer at ease” there, “in (their) old dispensations.”

We have heard a lot about change lately, with the turning of the clock to 2021.

Oh, how we’ve wanted that turn.

And thanks be to God, there are changes on the horizon—real changes—that were not there even a very short time ago,

But as important, significant, and needed as those changes are, the shift to 2021 is not in and of itself going to make all things new

The Magi traveled for a long time to get to the star. Their transformation did not come by a calendar, but in a way of being.

We are saved by grace alone—saved alone by the one over whom the star rests—

But as Luther said, grace “never comes alone.”

Grace comes with the gravity of the star, pulling us into it—and by pulling in, changing our own orbit.

The light of Bethlehem is not there as a paper figure,  a painting, a piece of a wooden nativity scene.

It is there for us, to pull us into the Child, and find our live through him.

We are called, by the star, to BE the light that draws us.

The pull of the star over the child moves us to a gravity of love, over self-justification; hope, over despair, creativity, over destruction, grace filled poise and poised grace, over self-ish life, life itself, over death.

To quote Luther again, the grace in which we life is both input and output—it is of a piece.

And so, by its light—the light of the star that is in and of itself the light of the child in the manger, this is our orbit, our gravity, our light:

In the words of a poet:

“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of this world.

All things break.  And they can be mended.  Not with time.  But with intention. So go.  Love intentionally, extraordinarily, unconditionally.

Te broken world wais for the light that is in you.”