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.
Christmas Eve / John Stiles / First Lutheran Church / 12-24-15
Dear friends in Christ: grace to you and peace, from God, our First Love, in Christ Jesus. Let all who hear say Come! Amen.
This Christmas we are blessed with the work of many hands who have decorated our sanctuary and practiced music to share in our worship service. We have readers who’ve practiced their lines. Our Altar Guild hung Bible verses on the stairs that guide us to Christ, and arranged the poinsettias. The Worship & Music Team put up the tree and hung the greens. And a couple of our members built a sign of JOY out of wood for our altar and this beautiful Christmas Star to hang in our chancel this year.
These are all wonderful gifts – especially this time of year – why? Because they point us toward Christ. The wise men didn’t worship the star – but the one to whom the star pointed: Jesus Christ. The function of a star is to shine and guide and to show the way for others. And every star is different – no two shine quite alike. So, this Christmas, I want to ask you: how will you shine and light the way for others? And, to help you think about this, I wrote a little story about stars (with apologies to Dr. Seuss, as it’s done in that same style) about how we all shine in our own way. So, this is the sermon this Christmas Eve. I call it: Be The Star This Christmas!
Tis the season for wide-eyed wishes
And shining stars and Christmas dishes
The guests will all come singing songs, giving gifts
And we’ll toast them with eggnog and eat leutefisk!
And soon we can all breathe a sigh of relief
Being glad that it’s over (except the roast beast).
When guests have all shuttled away to their cars
Then we can go back to our lives near and far.
But wait, what’s that glow, through the trees up on high?
Could it be the Star of Bethlehem still drawing nigh?
Who knows, maybe this will be the year
That the star shines for us, some true Christmas cheer!
Oh, I wish it were true. It isn’t so trite
To imagine that peace in the world comes tonight.
It can happen in YOU. It can happen in ME.
All we need to do is SHINE so that everyone can see.
So, how will YOU shine in your starry-kind-of-way?
Will you glow oh, so gently or with bold, bright array?
Will you burn so hot till your friends need sunglasses?
Or will your light be warm and dark as sweet molasses?
You could plug IN your star to make it brighter than bright
Using string-after-string. Why, it would shine day and night!
Your friends would say ‘Wow!’ They would all come and see
But friends are not friends because of electricity.
Even if you’re famous and get on TV!
Or maybe you’re ashamed of the star in your heart
And feeling so down for not doing your part
Maybe someone laughed at your particular twinkle
And made you feel small as a Flim Flammer Flinkle.
(And that’s pretty small, let me tell you, I know.
I once had one for a pet. It did everything but grow!)
So what are we to do if we’re down with the blues?
And don’t think we could shine like the rest of those hues?
Could the answer be sitting at the top of my tree?
In a star shining brightly for you and for me?
Say, what if I shine for you and you shine for me?
It really doesn’t matter if no one else sees.
Don’t you wonder in a world full of hatred and sin
How a dear little baby could draw people in?
How he’d one day stand up to rulers with swords
And disarm them with love, not the force or big words.
This Jesus, this Mary, this Joseph, I’m told
Have much more to give us than incense and gold.
For the world still needs saving. Look around you, it’s true.
People are hurting, and maybe it’s you.
God sent the star for the wise men to guide
It wasn’t so big, but it shined far and wide
It shined so bright that they just had to pursue
Till this star came to rest over a stable with cow poo.
They weren’t much to look at, this family in the hay
But there was something about him that made the wise men stay
They knelt before the child and worshipped him as king
Doesn’t that sound like a strange sort of thing?
Star-struck lovers, they offered gifts untold
Of frankincense and myrrh and pockets full of gold
But the best gift they gave to the child in the hay
Was the gift of their hearts, for they had FAITH that day.
For that is what stars do – in the end of all things
They point the way for others to worship Christ the king.
It isn’t about their glow or how sparkly they are
No, they simply do what all stars do: show God’s love near and far.
So, someday when others may ask about God
Don’t be surprised and perplexed or feel odd.
No, the star that they’ve followed is YOU, you big star!
You’re the one radiating God’s love. You just ARE!
Yes, Christmas is about Jesus and the sharing of his love.
But we must shine it down here because it came from above.
So be the star this Christmas as you point the way for others
And shine the light of Christ on your sisters and your brothers.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year in 2016!