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In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
“The sight of the star filled them with delight.” (Matthew 2:9)
As the year begins newspapers make various prophecies on how things will turn out; some very hopeful, some despondent. In today’s feast however, we are looking at the start of an era. How did the various characters see the unfolding events?
For the wise men there was a deep sense of fulfilment. All their guesses about the meaning of the star had been confirmed. They had found the new born king, and the star had assured them that his arrival was awesome. One might think that they were superstitious people to believe that stars predict events on earth. However that may be, they were searching for the truth, and God guided them through their confused ideas to find it.
For Mary and Joseph: strong re-assurance. Here were some total strangers who recognised what only the two of them knew about their child. That He was indeed from another world, and these visitors had managed to detect that it was so. How wonderful it must have been for them to see that others, complete strangers, and from remote foreign lands, had been given faith. God’s gift to the couple would spread to vast numbers far and wide. But for Herod, a very worrying sense of threat. This was something out of his control, a force from elsewhere: would it unseat him, would it destroy him? He was full of foreboding. Here was a worried man, to whom good news was bad news!
The child was as yet too young to know what was happening. Nevertheless he would be at the centre of history. His star had risen and would shine. But, and this is the central point, His birth showed that God is active in our world; no wonder Herod was worried.
How strange it is that we go through life, producing endless explanations of what is happening, generating various predictions of what is coming over the horizon, but failing to notice the one whose star has arisen, who is mysteriously influencing all that happens.
For we are like moles burrowing through the earth with very little idea of the view from above. We worry greatly about the unstable political scene of the present: confusion over Brexit, tensions about coming exams, horror at all the suffering in Syria and the Middle East, fear at Terrorist actions in Turkey and nearer home. These are real concerns, but we need to see them against a wider picture; and unless we do so we will become discouraged and fail to act to bring the world into a better state. The wise men saw the hand of God in the stars above; they believed it must mean something, and allowed themselves to be led and guided, and thus made the great discovery that God was active in the world in a very simple way. We need trust like theirs, or we will remain as moles moving below ground.