the star

The Star is one of my favorite parts of the Advent story.  Like the famous Left Shark in Katy Perry's show, the star takes on its own identity, and becomes a character in the Nativity. Stars are truly amazing, and I'm truly fascinated by them.

I've spent hours lying on my back in remote places out of the reach of light pollution, watching them and wishing on them.  I went camping in rural Oregon a few summers ago and witnessed the largest meteor shower of the century.   It took my breath away.

Stars are not only beautiful; they're also incredibly important.  Slaves followed the North Star to escape to freedom.  Sailors navigated by them.  And, in Matthew 2, we read about the magi finding their way to Jesus because they followed the star.  His star.  The star that they somehow knew represented the birth of a king.

Because they followed his star, it led them to the place where Jesus was.  They worshipped their new king, and brought him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

The thing about the magi is that out of millions of other stars, they followed the one that they knew would lead them to Jesus.   If they had followed any other star, they wouldn't have gotten there.

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In our world, we have millions of stars, too.  There are lots of people and organizations and causes to choose from.

We can follow celebrities, politicians, pastors, experts, educators, activists.....

We can follow a theological system or a political party or a social cause.....

We can follow a non-profit or a church or a business or a TV show.....

We can follow people on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and LinkedIn....

While there are certainly worthy causes, organizations doing good in the world, and people with important messages, there is no one and nothing that can ever become a substitute for Jesus himself.

Those of us who call ourselves Christians take a name that means we are like Christ.  When we call ourselves Christians, we are claiming to follow in the steps of Jesus.

But so often, people who claim the name of Christ, people who say they follow the meek, peaceful, holy, radical carpenter from Nazareth -- act nothing like him, and sometimes do the opposite of what Jesus calls us to do -- and do it in his name.

Instead of being peacemakers, we use words and weapons to do violence to others.

Instead of remembering that the meek will inherit the earth, we've decided that anger is the only sentiment that gets things done.

Instead of working to bring heaven down to earth, we use all our energy to elect an arrogant politician.

Instead of having Jesus as our ultimate authority, we blindly follow the person in the pulpit every Sunday.

What if, this Advent, we take a fresh look at The Star?  What if we take this opportunity to reorient our lives and our hearts?  What if we reorganize our priorities?  What if we commit once again to following the solitary Star?  What if we fix our eyes on the North Star that leads us to Divine Love?

What if we let the Star's beauty take our breath away?

And what if, like the magi, we lay all our assets at his feet -- and kneel down in wonder, awe and praise?