January 6, 2008 ~ Epiphany Sunday
And New Paths”
dream stars do you follow? What dream stars do you follow, and whom do
you meet along the way? Is the star something grand, like hope for a
weary world, and are the people you meet wise ones from far away? Or do
you follow a star that promises you control over life and the
maintaining of power, and thus have you met any tyrannical kings? Or
are you trying to make it through another day, knowing somehow that
God's grace is with you? You might meet a few folks with similar hopes
along the pathways you trod.
It is tough enough finding a decent star to follow in this world, one
that leads you to places of healing, hope, stability, and community.
Tough enough, and on top of that you have to worry about the people you
meet along the way.
The wise ones from afar discovered that. Whether there were only three,
as Western tradition has etched into our communal legend, or twelve,
which the Eastern church believes, nonetheless, they made a pit-stop to
the local king, in order to not offend his sensibilities, and to get a
better idea of exactly where this newborn monarch would be.
It seems their mission was pure and true: to honor the one foretold in
history who was to save the people, the one they had discerned from the
stars themselves. But not everyone's mission is as innocent as theirs.
You see Herod, one of five kings of New Testament fame, not a one of
them kind to Jesus or his followers, had ill intentions to the newborn
Now, how did the Magi know that Herod was evil? Not by his words, of
course. We rarely can discern evil as easily as all that. And they did
not understand his intentions fully at first. But by the end of the
story, following their hearts as much as their heads, they chose to go
home by another way, avoiding the tyrant altogether.
We meet just such strangers along our paths in life. Both the
star-following strangers who want nothing more than to bless that which
is good and beautiful and life, as well as those who are hell-bent on
amassing their own power and protecting their own assets, to hell with
the rest of us. How do we know when a stranger calls if they are friend
or foe? There's no magical answer: it's a balance of trusting head,
heart, and gut. It's a good practice, however, to generally be
suspicious of those with power and a need to hold on to that power.
And we have to be willing to respond with new options, to go home by
another way. There are many who would seek to kill off our dreams,
often with talk of “getting real” and “protecting yourself,” but
ultimately the best dreams are less about reality and security and more
about possibility and vulnerability.
The wise men went home by a different path. The Holy Family had to flee
to Egypt, hardly the route they would have chosen from Bethlehem back to
Nazareth. But we go wherever we need to go, in order to keep the dream
Follow the star, wherever it may lead you. And as you meet strangers
along the way, know they may be wise or they may be cruel or they may be
a mixture of both. I pray you discover the difference, and trust that
God will be there to guide you. Amen.
Rev. Allen V. Harris
Franklin Circle Christian Church
Copyright 2008 -- The Rev. Allen V. Harris
Franklin Circle Christian Church
(Disciples of Christ)
1688 Fulton Rd., Cleveland, OH 44113-3096