Isaiah 60:1-6; Matthew 2:1-12

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1 Isaiah 60:1-6; Matthew 2:1-12 I bet you know the story of the wise men who were foreigners, strangers, and gentiles and perhaps kings or magi. And they followed the star and saw the baby Jesus in the manger. No, there is no mistake, today we are going back to Bethlehem. I know it seems strange because Christmas is over and last week we heard about the 12 year old Jesus, but today is the Sunday of Epiphany. On this special Sunday we celebrate the revelation that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And it is related to the visit of the wise men. In my hometown there are many Greek Catholics and this day was a special celebration for them. Their priest visited every family and he consecrated the homes and wrote three letters on the wall: C + M + B which is the abbreviation for the three kings: Caspar, Melchior and Baltasar or it could mean a Latin blessings: Christus mansionem benedictat which means may Christ bless this home. It is a nice tradition to recall the story of the wise men. But beyond the tradition, can this celebration give us a faith building message? Can we celebrate today as our personal celebration not only because this is the first Christian celebration? In addition, we don t know very much about these wise men. In the Bible there is no more information but over time additional information has been added to the story: 1

2 Because of the three gifts people thought that there were three people who visited Jesus and that they were kings. In the 8th century they got their names: Caspar, Melchior and Baltasar. And later other people thought they were kings each with a different skin color representing the whole world. But in the Bible we don t find any other information only that they visited Jesus from the East and that they were wise men who dealt with astronomy. I think it is a waste of time to debate how many wise men visited Jesus, what their names were or what they looked like. The important message is somewhere else. One of the key moments in their story that they saw the star prophesying the Messiah and they followed it. Then in Bethlehem they saw Jesus with his mother, Mary. They fell down and worshipped him and offered him gifts. Through their journey we can see what following Christ means in reality. They were outsiders who were led by the star. I remember the story of the Israelites when they were in exile in Babylonia, far away from Jerusalem, and the temple, and they thought that God had left them and had stayed in Jerusalem. The Babylonians worshipped foreign gods, like the Sun, the Moon and stars and the Israelites started to fear these gods. And in this turmoil, the most beautiful confession was born about creation. That was the time when the creation story was written, as a confession how great was their God. He created the earth, the sun, the Moon and the stars. They didn t have to fear those things because they were only creatures made by God. And their God was the only God who saved them and led them home. And many years later this wonderful God gave a star to lead the wise men from the East to worship Jesus Christ. Yes, He is so great, He could use anything and He used a star. Actually it was the conjunction of two planets. Saturn was the star of Israel and Jupiter was the king star. The conjunction of these two stars meant that a big king was born in Israel. 2

3 Just don t tell me that the Bible is full of un-scientifistic notions because this conjunction was a miracle and it truly proved that Jesus was born. I always wondered how they could follow the star. If I see the sky it is so wonderful, sometimes we can see beautiful constellations, sometimes the full Moon is so beautiful, but have you ever thought to follow a star? And they did it. We know all those prophecies about Jesus from the Old Testament, so the Jews must have known more about them than those wise men and yet how many Jews visited Jesus at his birth? How many Jewish people followed the star? Not many. Please don t get me wrong, I am not against the Jews, but in this situation when strangers were the ones who saw and followed star we have to think about ourselves. We are close to God, we hear about His promises but can we see His star? Do we really know what we are following? I thought about this the other day. And really, how many things we can follow, sometimes we don t even notice it. We follow the news, and all those happenings around the world. Those who are involved with social media follow their friends daily actions. Some people follow politicians, movie stars, maybe religious leaders, rules or even ideas. But those wise men followed the star by their own choice. Nobody forced them to do this, but God wanted them to follow this sign. We don t know why or how, but they followed it and because of this, they not only saw the star but later they saw Jesus Christ in the manger. If you let God lead you, you will see great things. Let s continue our journey with the wise men. So they saw Jesus and worshipped him. It was a journey and at the end of the journey they found Jesus. And believe me, it was a long journey without even knowing what would be at the end. And in Jerusalem nobody knew about the newborn king. What a shame. Those wise men took that long journey but in the main city nobody celebrated the birth of the new king. But they didn t go back, and continued their journey to Bethlehem. This is a 3

4 great encouragement to us too because during our earthly wandering toward Jesus how many times do we meet with unconquerable blocks. How many times do we feel that it is a hard journey and in some parts of it we have to follow the star alone because there is nobody else around us? I remember that I was a small child, maybe 5 or 6 years old and my grandma came every Sunday morning to our house and we walked to church. The first worship started at 8:30 and we were there earlier to learn new hymns and also to sing the favorite ones. Years passed but I was always the only child at the early service. At the next one at 10:30 there were more children but they were older than me. At that time children started to learn to read and write at age 7. I remember when I went to the Sunday school I was too young and couldn t read but I remember very well that I had to be there and had to hear all those wonderful Bible stories. I can tell you I was led by God. And if God leads you, you will find Jesus. You will know right away when you meet with him and you cannot do anything else but what the wise men did; fall down and worshipped him. As a Christian you have to know what you are following. You cannot follow false stars or idols. But if you follow the star of God you meet with Jesus. When those wise men saw Jesus they gave their gifts to him. What about you? What can you give to Jesus? I didn t plan a series about our hearts but I think we get a message from God week by week here at Paulin to give our heart to Jesus. On this first Sunday of 2016 do you need to know more than you are led by God and what you need to do is, give your heart to him? Those wise men gave their gifts and got an everlasting gift from Jesus. Because the cross followed the manger, when Jesus Christ gave himself to us then he gave everlasting life to us. Read your Bible again and again, put aside those fairy tales which are not in the Bible but read God s message daily and experience the miracle, you will be led by God and I am sure you will meet Jesus day by day. You will be the person who is 4

5 gifted by God, whose heart is full of joy and happiness because Jesus is in your heart. Amen. 5

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