January 6, 2002

Matthew 2:1-12

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem village, Judah territory - this was during Herod's kingship - a band of scholars arrived in Jerusalem from the East. They asked around, "Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the eastern sky that signaled his birth. We're on pilgrimage to worship him."

When word of their inquiry got to Herod, he was terrified - and not Herod alone, but most of Jerusalem as well. Herod lost no time. He gathered all the high priests and religion scholars in the city together and asked, "Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?' They told him, "Bethlehem, Judah territory. The prophet Micah wrote it plainly:

'It's you, Bethlehem, in Judah's land,
no longer bringing up the rear.
From you will come the leader
who will shepherd-rule my people, my Israel."'

Herod then arranged a secret meeting with the scholars from the East. Pretending to be as devout as they were, he got them to tell him exactly when the birth-announcement star appeared. Then he told them the prophecy about Bethlehem, and said, "Go find this child. Leave no stone unturned. As soon as you find him, send word and I'll join you at once in your worship."

Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time!

They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh.

In a dream, they were warned not to report back to Herod. So they worked out another route, left the territory without being seen, and returned to their own country.

<The Message >


1. As we begin a new year let me remind you of an 1994 resource which is still helpful - "Living the Word: Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycles A, B, and C." This collection, from the editors of Sojourners magazine, offers diverse ecumenical insights into scripture, pointing to the radical message of unity and justice. Includes scripture index and special "Holy Days and Seasons" section. "Living the Word" is an excellent resource for pastoral reference or personal devotion. Just in time for Advent!

1-9 copies, $10 each; 10-49 copies, $8.50; 50-99 copies, $7.50 each; 100+ copies, $6.50 each.

For more information, see:

To encourage you - here is the reflection for this day by Shelley Douglass.

"God's Glory Still

"Brother John is a 73-year-old friar who escaped World War II Poland by walking cross-country on bare and bleeding feet. He was a laborer in Hitler's Germany, where he was paradoxically safe, warm, and fed - and where he outwitted the authorities repeatedly.

"He told me one day about walking through a devastated city after the allied carpet bombing. It was all rubble, he said, and there was a thick mud that stuck to his boots, so that every few step he had to stop and scrape it off. There was a stench. Eventually he realized that he was walking on human debris: the remains of people killed in the bombings. Almost nothing could be recognized, just a piece of bone here and there.

"Brother John said that he never forgot that experience: 'They were human beings too,' he said. 'They were people like us.'

"At Epiphany we remember that we are all human beings together, and all made in God's image. The glory shining in the Christ child, beckoning the wise; the glory smashed into the mud under Brother John's feet - the same glory. God's image, still being smashed, still there to be recognized."

2. So nothing good was to come from Bethlehem! The raises the old question of whether anything good can come out of something evil. We are reminded, with that question, that nothing is impossible for God.

So, for a moment, give thanks for the good which has come forth from your life. This is a time to reprise "It's a Wonderful Life" as though it were about your life.

Thank you for good which has come forth from little ol' you. May it flourish even more this year.

3. Well, Christmas is done now. The gifts have been opened. What more is there but to move on? Isn't that what it was all about?

The twelve-days of Christmas are done now. When did you first notice that Christmas was over? Which sale flyer was it? What TV program didn't bring an insight into what it would mean for GOD to be with us? What attitude crept back in after your resolution to be different?

When did you notice it was time to go back to the old ways? O, sure, by a different route, but still back.

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