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.