Sunday, January 4, 2009

Epiphany Pageant 2009

We watched the skies! We looked for signs, for wonders; we looked for something in the heavens that was telling us, here on earth, that things were going to change. (We knew they had to.) At the Center for Portentous Phenomena, somewhere east of Jerusalem, we all saw something in the sky - and we came to an agreement: it must mean something!

The royal planet Jupiter and the planet we associated with the Hebrew People, Saturn, were in alignment three times in the year now known as 7 B.C. Three times: Hello! Hello! Hello! We get the message, we said, and we set out: for the royal city of the Jews.

We had been following that star for a very long way and we thought we knew what it meant. Across mountain passes filled with untimely snow, across grasslands and along river valleys and into the high desert, across and along the river Jordan and finally up the hill to the summit of the holy mountain - to the city of Zion, the city of (we thought) the kings of the Jews.

That was as far we as got but now we were in the dark.

Politely we inquired of the man in charge: where shall we find him? Where shall we find the one born king of the Jews? For we have been following - his star. (Not yours, pal.)

Oh, he said so politely, is it now? Well tell you what, when you find it, you let me know. I'll be right there - with bells on.

That smelled like dead fish.

But they had clued us in: this may be the royal city, now, but it is not always so: for as the prophet Micah has told us, Bethlehem is not least among the cities of Judah, for from her shall come the greatest of kings: Bethlehem - the city of the shepherd who was king, the city of David.

And so we went.

And then there it was again: that star. We had seen its rising; we are seeing it still. The sign, at last! There was a showing forth of the glorious grace of God: he has sent his king.

And we went into the town of Bethlehem, and inquired at all the right places. And then we were tired, and our camels needed rest.

So we turned their heads toward the caravansary, the place where all the long-distance travelers kept their animals and themselves, to find a place for ourselves in a wayfarers' inn, and, in the stables, a trough at which our animals could feed.

We had looked in all the right places, hadn't we? Among the great we had been courteous, and we had been inquiring minds following the clue of the prophets. And yet - here we were, at the end of our journey, and nothing in the world to show for it.

But there.

There, where we led the camels and the horses to water and food, there we found him. It was a baby, lying in the manger.

An ordinary baby. Of course! We had been looking for the love of God in extraordinary places - well, in this place here it was, in an ordinary looking family in an extraordinary situation. The love was there.

We must have been quite a sight! An eyeful for the caravan men, the stable hands, and the drovers: for you see, we had brought the gifts with us. And we, when we realized what we beheld, had run back and put on our best robes, to present the gifts and ourselves, to give him the honor that was his due - for this baby was the king we sought.

If we had been shepherds we might have brought him lambs' wool or goats' milk, or cheese; as we were wise in the ways of the skies we brought what they had told us, what they had led us to expect...

We carried with us the best gifts of our homelands: frankincense and gold, royal gifts - just as Micah had prophesied! - And one more, one we presented with some trepidation to the young family, myrrh. But the mother nodded: she knew.

And we knew.

And yet we all know something more: he is with us. He is still with us.

And still he calls us, draws us onward, to follow his star, to see the light shining in the darkest night, the light that the darkness has not, will not, cannot, overcome: the light of the love of God.

Come on! He leads us. And we follow. Amen.


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