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Their Dreams and Our Fears Among The Stars

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Look at the stars...

The story of Enchanted Rock and the Milky Way.
Light pollution has gotten so bad that you can’t see most stars. There are designated places now called “Dark Sky Zones”… Enchanted Rock is one of them. The closest to here is in Logan. Our lives become haze of thrown light.
They saw the star! A single star.
We don’t know much about these folks. Our legends turn them into three kings, but the text itself simply says “mages”… no number, no royalty.
At best we can know for certain from the text that they are astrologers, and more than likely from Babylon. (at that time, a Persian vassal)
They were people who carried special wisdom. They read the world and tried to make inferences on it. And they traveled to see the new baby that had been born. This wasn’t a small journey, but would have taken months to have arrived.
But they came.
We ought to take a moment to pause here, because the magi are unique. They’re weird.
They have a brief cameo, but their presence shakes up the entire order of the world as we knew it.
The magi were outsiders. They were not Hebrews, they didn’t even live nearby. Not part of the culture, not part of the religion. They had been conquers of the Hebrews before. There was no reason to think that they had a reason to care about what was happening 900 miles away. They were Gentiles.
But they paid attention to the signs. Something drew them to this. They used their skills, their gifts - both inside them and to give - and it led them to a podunk town months and months away. Together, this’d be like us leaving today to head to WaKeeny, Kansas, which is sort of in the middle west of the state, or Tennille, FL - a random spot an hour south of Tallahassee.

Star-Struck Blind

…but somehow, the magi can only get so far. And so, they end up finding their way to Herod.
Herod the Great is more Herod the Complicated.
He had done more to establish Jerusalem in his time than many of his predecessors.
The people had more safety and stability than they used to.
There was opulence everywhere. This had been the best that the Hebrew people in the city had in a long time, espeically under the rule of Rome.
They had power. And that power was being challenged by the Magi, and by the baby.
Once their power is threatened, Herod and the people began to justify ways to maintain their power:
They used Scripture
They tried to manipulate the others
But, throughout the story, they do not see the light.
Herod and the people don’t see the star at all. They hear of it. They don’t look for it. They only react against it, and they respond against the Messiah.
The consequences here were violent. The people lost their first born. Prophets were killed. Herod treated the people like Pharoah. This wouldn’t have been lost on the readers at the time.
But, still, even with all of that, they don’t see the light. They don’t look for the star - why would they want to? It took Gentiles - star readers - to announce the coming of the savior. They’re trying to overwhelm it.

The Light Pollution of Our Hearts

It becomes so easy to drown this story in a kind of saccharine light. Warm glows of pageants and soft sepia tones of the sweetness of babies being born. And sometimes we need to do that. Sometimes we must do that. Herod needs to be a slapstick fool.
But that can’t be it. It must not be it, or we will fear the fear of Herod - not seeing the light, but being awash by the pollution of our own lights of fear, of violence, of maintaining power. Maybe you feel that culturally. A way life diminishing. What you could do you can’t anymore.
Some of you may have had that feeling last Sunday you were here. It was different. It was annoying. But what happened on the other side? Many of you had a chance to share together. Pray together. Laugh, cry. And you were supported in it. But, I think it meant that we all had let go of trying to hold our own lights, not looking to hold our own power, and instead look for the Christ-child in our midst as outsiders looking to give gifts to the transforming savior.
Your prayers, joys and concerns shared together are the gifts of the magi at work, clearing the way for the bright start to lead us together. As we look into 2019, this is my hope for us - that we’re looking for the Christ-light, the holy star again. That we arrest our Herodian tendencies, and be willing to be the outsiders wanting to meet Jesus Christ again. To see other outsiders who cannot help but follow. To follow our dreams to the Christ light.
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