My sister-in-law lives in the small town of Red Feather Lakes, Colorado. With an elevation of over 8,000 feet, it’s just about the highest place I’ve ever been. I can remember standing on her porch at night and looking at the stars—more stars than I have absolutely ever seen, seemingly close enough to touch. The ribbon of the Milky Way was so vivid, and the cloudless night made it all the more magical. It was an overwhelming experience that just completely took my breath away (and not just because there’s much less oxygen at that elevation than this Georgia girl is used to breathing!).
Whether it was high in the Colorado mountains, standing on a beach in Costa Rica, overlooking the plains in Kenya, or noticing a turtle cross my path in our own North Georgia mountains, there have been countless times that something in God’s good creation has taken my breath away. And so I’d like to think I can begin to understand just a little bit of what the wise men felt when they consulted their charts and instruments, checking and then double-checking their measurements and observations before proclaiming that this wasn’t just wishful thinking—something wonderful really was happening. There was a new star lighting up the dark desert sky, a herald of a great king. But it didn’t just stop with a moment of wonder for them.
A footnote in my Bible recently reminded me that Christianity is “therefore” religion. It is not enough to just sit back and say “wow,” to be awed by God’s active, merciful love in the world and grace in our own lives. We are loved, we are moved and transformed, and therefore we act, too. The wise men – despite having minds cultivated by the analytical thought of their profession, and souls nurtured in a spiritual tradition quite different from the Israelite religion – possessed a “therefore” kind of faith. They gathered up a caravan and headed out in the full assurance that something profound was happening, and they needed to do more than simply sit back in wonder. They needed to respond to that dawning of grace in their hearts.
As we listen to these familiar stories that so many of us have heard all our lives, can we do so with a sense of wonder and awe? Can we hear these stories anew? And then, can we, like wise men and women who have gone before us, gather up a caravan of our own and see where this new thing God is doing will lead?
Dear God, we give you thanks for all of those times when you’ve placed stars in the heavens and wonders on earth to awe us and remind us of your greatness. And thank you for the invitations those wonders often are to see your grace up close. We pray that we would have the boldness of the wise men, to know that what we are seeing is not just a momentary delight, but a sign of something greater at work in the world. Give us courage and an adventuresome spirit to follow the star so that we might meet the King. Amen.