Summary: An Epiphany Sermon about our call to step outside of our own light to follow the star.
It’s Epiphany today! And, in case you haven’t noticed, the wise men have been over on the mission table since the beginning of Advent. The holy family has been on the altar, and the wise men have been over there. Traveling to the Holy Family.
Today is the year in the church calendar when we celebrate the arrival of the wise men. Today is the day we cheer for their journey. That’s what we are going to talk about today – what it means to pray and have a purpose. But first…
The song that the band sang this morning is a David Wilcox song. It’s called “waiting for a miracle.” When I heard David Wilcox last year he played that song. He said that the song was inspired by his Sunday School career early in life. He said he remembered sitting in Sunday School and hearing a story told of the wise men – the story was told out of a story book and he remembered seeing a giant star in the storybook. A giant star that filled the whole night sky.
And he thought to himself…if the star was that big, everyone would have followed it. It wasn’t that big. It was a star. And most of the folks just ignored it. Most of the folks just sat home waiting for a miracle.
The youth went to go see the movie “The Nativity Story” in December. If you haven’t already seen the movie I would encourage you to see it. It’s not too late. In the movie the wise men play a large role. You meet these three wise men in the movie (and really – it could have been more or less than three – we just say three because there were three gifts) and you discover that they have spent most of their lives learning about the prophecy of the promised one and it’s not even their religion. And they’ve studied the stars – they have managed to spend their whole lives as scholars of hope.
Those men certainly had purpose in their lives. And, like David Wilcox song says,
“The star was dim and distant to those who stayed at home. But every heart that follows, behold a light was shown.”
Not everyone had enough purpose to trust. Not everyone prayed enough to know that following was the thing to do.
But the wise men did. They not only prayed, they knew their purpose. They understood that their purpose in life was to study the great prophecy. And then, having studied they knew enough to take a risk and go looking for it.
Prayer and a sense of purpose leads to pluck and perseverance.
Or at least that’s what we can take from the lesson of the wise men. They prayed, they studied, they had a sense of the purpose they had been called to, and that’s what gave them the pluck to travel to a distant land on the strength of a far-off star. That’s what gave them the ability to persevere until they arrived and, in the end, that’s what sent them home by another way preventing Herod from find that great prize that was their purpose.
I like both the David Wilcox song that we heard this morning and James Taylor’s song “Home by another way.” The James Taylor song came right out of scripture and talks about the wise men being warned about Herod in a dream and then going home another way.
I like both of those songs because they are based in scripture and there is another thing that unites those to songs. Both songs talk not only about the wise men – but also about our own call to prayer and purpose – our own call to pluckiness and perseverance.
In the David Wilcox song he says:
Right outside my window, quiet as can be. All that time making up my mind, the angel waits for me.
In the James Taylor song he says:
Maybe me and you can be wise guys too and go home by another way.
In both songs you and I are seen not just as passive bystanders waiting to see how God’s story unfolds. Instead we are all called to be participants in this great drama. We are being called to put our story in THE STORY. To make sure that we don’t just stay at home with our lights so bright that we never see our own star calling.
During this season of Epiphany we are being asked by the Conference to pray for New Churches. That’s a nice thing, and important thing, to pray for. New Churches are the quickest and one of the most effective ways of reaching people who don’t already have a relationship with Jesus Christ. They are a great way to offer the good news of Jesus to all the nations.