In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking,
“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.”
When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘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.'”
Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then 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.” When 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.
When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On 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. (Matthew 2:1-11)
My dear little children,
At this time of year, I am reminded of how we all show our love for one another. I am encouraged as I see my people come together like this to worship and to remember the true meaning of this celebration.
Sometimes, though, my little ones, my heart breaks for each one of you. I have done so much for you and yet I see so little of what I offered in love being returned – even among yourselves. The angels of heaven recognized that I am the Promised One on that evening so long ago, and they could not restrain the joy that they felt. They sang it in love from the heavens, and it echoed from the mountains.
When the shepherds heard it, they understood that I am the Lamb of God. They left their flocks on the hillsides and came in love, showing their desire to experience who I am, even at the risk of their livelihood.
Wise men – astrologers – from far-off Mesopotamia saw prophecy of my birth and came in love and at a great expense to express their adoration and joy at the birth of the new king – the Light of the World.
My mother, Mary, risking shame, brought me into this world, little understanding what it meant to bear the Messiah, but loving me as her own, and because I am the way.
Now, my beloved, I invite you to recognize, at this season, who I am. I am the savior of humankind. Come unto me all of you who labor and are burdened with the cares of the day. I am able to lift that burden from you, because I love you.
I am your loving Savior,
Jesus, the Christ
(From Letters from Bethlehem by Wayne L. Tilden. Used with permission.)
Let us pray …
For those who seek a Savior, Great God, lead them to the Stable, to the One who was born to bring forgiveness and reconciliation.
For those who seek assurance, blessed Jesus, draw them to your light, your Word, a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.
For those who seek forgiveness, Holy Spirit, show them the path to mercy and grace beyond comprehension; to wholeness, healing, and peace beyond measure.
May it be so!
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.