Everything you wanted to know about Christianity
at the Anglican Parish of the Otways
Please join me each week for our reflections
of sermons conducted during our church service.
Plus, occasional splashes of humour and epiphanies!
With much Love and Blessings
Rev. Jenny Brandon
The picture many people have
of how the wise men came to Bethlehem
goes somewhat like this.
They saw a bright star in the eastern sky and began to follow it.
The star guided them unerringly,
first to Jerusalem, where it temporarily disappeared,
and then to Bethlehem where they found the Child Jesus.
It sounds so very simple and very exciting.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-23
But how true is this picture?
If we read Matthews account of the coming of the wise men
we will see that this picture is quite false.
Now while there is little to be gained by speculating
where the wise men came from
and exactly what the star was,
there is much to be gained in looking more closely
at the story Matthew has given us.
We read that the wise men
saw the star “at its rising”.
It says nothing about guiding them at this stage.
What this suggests is that the star was no more than a sign
that something unusual had happened,
or, more precisely, that 'someone special had been born.’
The next time the star is mentioned
is when they were on the road to Bethlehem,
that is, as they neared the end of their journey.
The text says, “there, ahead of them, went the star that they had
seen at its rising”.
This seems to indicate that between seeing the star as it rose,
and seeing the star as they left Jerusalem,
they travelled without the light and guidance of the star
and had to seek and enquire as to where they should go.
Their journey was neither simple nor easy.
They encountered difficulties, doubts and dangers.
Yet, in spite of these they persevered in their quest,
and were rewarded when they finally found Christ.
Like them we too are on a journey.
When we start out on
we too are attracted by something bright –
an ideal or vision or hope.
But this initial “star” does not always remain in our sight.
Sometimes it grows dim,
clouds can get in the way and deprive us of its light.
We must expect to encounter difficulties and doubts
in our life journey.
Some people think they are losing their faith
when they encounter doubts,
but we must not be surprised when this happens
as that is often times of great spiritual growth for us.
In times like that we must imitate the wise men.
We must not be too proud to ask for guidance
because the darkness will pass,
and once again we will see the initial
star beckoning to us.
The wise men can serve as models for us on our faith journey.
They were single-minded,
they refused to be put off by difficulties and hardships,
and when they found Christ they offered him their treasure,
gold, frankincense and myrrh.
When we find Christ and offer our love and our lives to him,
he will help us to open the treasures of goodness that lie,
sometimes buried, deep inside us,
so that we can offer ‘gifts’ to our brothers and sisters
whom we encounter in our lives.
Having worshipped Christ,
the wise men ‘left for their own country by another road.’
This suggests two things:
Firstly a different geographical route
in obedience to the warning they received
and secondly a new mentality and way of living.
Having encountered Christ
they no doubt travelled through life differently.
We too, having met Christ
will have different attitudes, values and goals
as we allow the message of the Gospel
to permeate our being
for it is impossible to encounter Christ
without it affecting the way we live our lives
and interact with those around us.
The challenge for us is to follow the example of the wise men,
imitating their obedience, determination,
willingness to be guided by God on a different journey,
and offering to Christ the treasure of our love and lives.
The Lord Be with You!
About the author
Rev. Jenny is an ordained Priest of the Anglican Diocese delivering services at Anglican Parish of the Otway churches every week.
With great depth of knowledge and a spiritual practice that shows she walks her talk and has taken her to the far reaches of N.T. Australia working with indigenous youth and elders.