|Posted by jeffdoucette on January 5, 2016 at 5:15 PM|
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”3When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: 6‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’” 7Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” 9When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
The day had grown short and it was dark and with only the light shining in the east they set out from the comfort they knew. But it was time to leave. They set out because of the event foretold. They travelled with little direction hoping they might arrive at the place spoken of. But they went astray and did not land where and they had expected. The directions were solid it seemed according to their charts and maps…but they arrived later than expected but they finally arrived. Some doubted and ended up calling before they arrived…others ended up going north, then west, then finally east. Some ended up in Peterborough…wait a minute…Peterborough in the Middle East?
Wait this is not the story of the Magi, travelling East in Luke’s gospel arriving late after the birth of Jesus. This is about a group of travellers who left for the open house fundraiser for refugee support at our home. Some were lost, some arrived early, some came later, some never made it, some surprised us by arriving when we did not know they would come. But we all came together to a feast of food, light and community to benefit strangers preparing to leave their country to come to us to start new.
And the group gathered were not all church people from DFUC…there was extended family, and card party friends of my in-laws, and neighbors and child hood friends and some of our friends and even people new to us. But this night we gathered under one roof and we shared food and drink and marvelled at the lights and décor and shared stories and hopes and dreams. It was like a little community unto itself this night.
And we all came with our own individual life stories and faith paths for one purpose…to help people we had never met come from a country we had never visited…because our hearts told us it was the right thing to do.
And this night we heard stories of people who had gathered with joy…and some with hearts weighed down by worry and pain. And yet every time a knock came to the door…my father-in law jumped to action to greet and take coats and another directed them to a set and offered food and drink as they joined in the conversation. And my heart leapt as a young child arrived to bury herself in hugging me and then opened her hands and gave me $1.10 to help support Teame and Amine our refugee brothers. And the gospel story of the women giving all she had came to life.
People moved around and mingled and spoke to one another and reconnected or made new connections and went up and down stairs entering new conversations. And all of a sudden I realized the Magi story had come to life…Magi came meeting shepherds and local villagers and the Spirit of Mary, Joseph and the child…yet you could not tell who was who because we were them all this night.
This night Luke’s story had come to life…a common story had gathered us from everywhere and hospitality was exchanged by many people. The weary traveller was greeted and brought into shelter. Stories were shared…both spoken and unspoken. And the star or the light that bought them here would lead them back out the door.
And people ask me…was that gospel story real? These gospel stories will always be real when we place our story in the midst of the story being told and unfolded and lived. These gospel stories take on real meaning when we open ourselves to the journey. There will always be travellers and the choice to welcome them or not, to offer food and shelter and a chance to share their story. And epiphanies can happen…in the awakenings on the way to and back to our homes, awakenings in the stories spoken and shared and listened to…and our faith path can be found and rekindled. This is how the stories of the gospel stay real. So follow that star you Magi and Shepherds and Innkeepers and feisty prophets and be like those who dare look heavenward and dream. And who dear even more to be foolish and set out and follow a star shining so brightly in the sky.