A RISING STAR - SERMON ON EPHESIANS 3:1-12 AND MATTHEW 2:1-12 - FR. JOSEPH ALSAY, SAINT AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Sermon Delivered by the Rev. Joseph C. Alsay
St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church
on the Second Sunday after Christmas-2022
“A Rising Star”
Ephesians 3:1-12 & Matthew 2:1-12
There were no paparazzi in Bethlehem on the night that Jesus was born.
No reporters clamoring for a story.
No network news.
Just shepherds. Oh and a star.
A star in the heavens that pointed to the newborn babe that lay cradled in a feed through. A star which indicated that a king had been born. A star which showed that way to the one who would be the light of the whole world. Now that’s star power! But, there were no paparazzi in Bethlehem that night. No, Not a one. But somewhere, off to the east, a group of scientist, astrologers, wise men, Magi, saw the star and set off to discover it’s meaning.
We don’t know exactly how long after Jesus’ birth the Magi showed up in Bethlehem.
Some scholars say eighteen months, some twenty- four (based on the fact that Herod killed all the children of Bethlehem under the age of two.)
We don’t know exactly when, but they came. They came hoping to find a king. Hoping to find answers to the questions the star raised.
They came seeking after truth.
And when they got there, they found exactly what they were looking for. And so they knelt down, worshipped the baby and offered him precious gifts. How different than Herod’s response to the news of the star!
Herod, responded with characteristic fear, plotting and violence. Herod, who lied about his desire to worship the child- because he was only interested in worshipping himself. To protect his own self-interest. To keeping his own position and power secure.
No, there were no paparazzi in Bethlehem when Jesus was born. Because Jesus was not that kind of star.
And for us that’s a good thing.
I am always puzzled by the endless fascination so many people have with the “stars” and their messed up and misguided lives. I’m not sure. Maybe there’s a part of us that yearns for the lifestyle a life of wealth, self- indulgence and a seeming “freedom” to do whatever we please and get away with it. O maybe we just look at their screwed up lives and realize that our often messy and complicated live aren’t so bad after all.
You know what I mean… compared to Brittany Spears, the problems in my family seem miniscule. Or perhaps we’re drawn to watch in the same way we’re drawn to look a t car wreck on the side of the road, it seems we humans sometimes have a morbid fascination with disaster.
Whatever the reason, we just drawn to these “stars” and their escapades. It keeps the paparazzi employed.
But what about Jesus? What about the One called the “morning Star”? What draws us to him?
After all, Jesus invites us to a lifestyle that pretty much runs counter to what the world tells us we should want, to what the world encourages us to seek. Jesus offers us a life where we use our wealth and power for him, rather than collecting it for ourselves.
To a life where self- giving rather than self-indulgence is lifted up as the norm. A life where “freedom” doesn’t mean doing whatever we want, but being able to do what God wants us to do.
Maybe we are here this morning because deep down inside, we know that, while our lives may not be as messed up a Brittany Spears (or any other “stars” in Hollywood) we know that they are full of their own pains and troubles and struggles and disappointments.
And we know that it is in the One who was born in Bethlehem where we can find light for own darkness and hope for our own journeys.
After all, we believe that in this One the whole love of the creator was offered to the world- and to you and to me. We believe that, in this One, we find a way to confront and rose above death- and not only the big one at the end of our lives, but thousands of little deaths we die all of the time.
We stop a t the manger each year, not out of morbid curiosity, but out of mortal need. What would our lives be worth, really if it were for the cross… and the resurrection?
In him we find the promise of life. In him we find the promise of hope and value for our lives.
When the Magi came into the house where the child was, this was the truth they beheld in his face. And they knelt down and worshipped him.
We come here Sunday after Sunday to do the same thing. We come to offer our thanks and praise to the One of Bethlehem, to the King who rules from the cross. We come to offer our gifts- our dollars and coins, time and talents, bread, wine and water, gold, frankincense and myrrh our vey selves.
Not because our gifts are worth so much- because compared to what Christ has done for us, they aren’t—but because he is worth our whole lives, because he defines life itself.
Various Clergy and members of St. Augustine contribute to authoring the blog on a variety of topics.