Setting Up the Creche – Wise Men

Written for Epiphany Worship for the UCC in Wallace, Idaho

Look who finally made their way into the creche – and with three days to spare, no less! I know it may feel like they’ve been delayed at the airport or stuck in traffic, distracted by a scenic overlook or blue light special, but we forget these folks had a long way to travel. They had gifts to assemble, camels to saddle up, borders to cross, prophecies to untangle, languages to learn. All of which leads me to wonder why they bothered in the first place. What was so compelling about that star that they packed up and headed into the night, unsure of where they were going, and when – or if – they might return.

I remember my last semester of seminary when, like all of my classmates, I was scrambling to find a job. Committed to being faithful to the call I had accepted from God, I threw open the perimeters and boldly announced I would go wherever God wanted me to go. Absolutely certain that that would be Vermont. I sent my profile to churches across the land, and then whittled the options down to a short list of two possibilities in Vermont, one in Maine and one in Wisconsin (I have no idea how that one snuck in, but it did…) I remember letters and phone calls from the search committee in Maine and then telling my friends, I was going to say no, too many potatoes and trees, too few people. And then there was another phone call. When I hung up, I turned around and said, guess who’s going to Maine? Why? I could tell you about interests and Bible Studies, outdoor adventures and compelling chairperson sweet talk, but mostly it came down to knowing this was a road I needed to travel, a call God wanted me to embrace, a star that compelled me to come.

It really isn’t about packing bags, leaving home and heading out for destinations unknown; but it is about living with eyes wide open to the stirring presence of God. About seeing the stars that infiltrate and soften our darkness with the message that a new day’s dawning. About recognizing the holy when it surfaces among the ordinary, bringing with it the melody of wonder. And about being willing to push ourselves out of the easy chair of familiar thoughts and well-worn routines to go in search of unprecedented possibilities, unrecognized companions, unbelievably good news. The journey will change us, but God and the Child beckon us to come. To see. To worship. To offer our gifts. And then to go home by another way, sharing the story of all we’ve seen and heard, reflecting the light that has led us this far.


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    • Marjorie Palmer on January 4, 2021 at 5:18 pm

    This message took me back sixty years when I had the decision to make on which teaching job offer to accept though neither the one I had hoped for. I learned a lot about myself making the decision, handling that first job, and accepting that there was where I was called to be. Then many years later I turned down a scholarship for my master’s without even discussing it first with my husband because I felt called to be available to accompany my sister to her cancer treatments. It was quite sometime before I realized that that put me in a position to accept the job next job offer which was a change of career. Thanks for this thoughtful message as well as each of your advent messages that have helped me daily.
    My love to you,

  1. And thank you, Marge, for your thoughtful reflection. We often don’t know, can’t know where our choices will lead, only that God will use them to open doors. My love to you as well. Alice

    • Cathy Barker on January 4, 2021 at 8:32 pm

    Thank you, Alice, for this whole amazing series! You are an exceptional writer, and it has been a delight to make this journey with you as the guide. Keep writing, dear friend!

    • Tim wildman on January 5, 2021 at 5:09 am

    Wow, Alice! This really hits home for us at First Church in Concord with our building now sold, our bags backed and stored in our “rented back” sanctuary and chapel, and our eyes on a star that promises the discernment of a new home and a renewed sense of mission! Thank you, as always, for your amazing, God-given way with words!

  2. Thank you, Cathy, for your response and encouragement.

  3. The journey that you all are on is more intensely one of following the star than most of us dare to undertake. Blessings on the journey and the discovery.

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