I can’t help it but when I think about Epiphany and the star that the Wisemen followed, I think about the night sky and the stars and the moon, and space.
It was a few months before I was born that Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon. As a kid growing up, space and space flight were one of my favorite things to read about. I was a big fan of movies like Star Wars and TV shows like Buck Rogers in The 25th Century, and Battlestar Galactica. And it was with great joy that I received as a present from my Aunt and Uncle my first telescope. With it, I remember looking up into the sky at night, looking for stars, and being impressed by the details I could now see on the moon. With my telescope I looked for supernovas and comets, but unfortunately I found out that astronomy is tougher than it looks, and my little telescope was not that strong.
I am sure that the three Wisemen would have drooled over my little telescope. It probably would have made their job easier, both the spotting and the following of the star. To their credit, they were indeed successful on their own in following the star and in finding Jesus. Bright and shining the star to lead them to Christ.
John Wesley in his notes on this second chapter of Matthew’s gospel calls the Wisemen the “first fruits of the gentiles”. That is indeed one of the reasons that they are so important to the story of Jesus birth. They are verification that the importance of Jesus was going to reach beyond the cultural, and national borders of the twelve tribes of Israel. This understand of is reinforced by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians when he writes, “it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” (Ephesians 3:5-6)
The boundaries around God’s Children was being drawn as wide as the world itself. The arrival of the Wisemen was the first indication of his world wide significance. It is a story of evangelism.
Who are the gentiles today? They are the non-religious secular masses that surround us.
What is it, today, that draws them to Christ? What star shines so brightly that they are compelled to come and see?
What are we doing as a church or as an individual Christian to help these people to find Christ?
It was these questions that made me think about my old telescope in the first place. With a telescope it is all about focusing the light. Lenses of glass, each carefully shaped and placed to allow the light to be focused and amplified and the details revealed. Like a telescope, we as individuals and together as a church, we are called to focus the light of Christ, so that amid the bright and flashing lights of our busy life, the light of Jesus shines brightly enough to be followed.
But there’s a problem. My old telescope is broken. It’s been missing a lens in the eyepiece for twenty years. I have kept it, still. Mainly because it reminds me of what I did see and the great feeling I had when I first saw the moon more clearly then I had ever seen it before with my own eyes. I can tell you what it was like to see the moon that clearly, but you haven’t already seen it in a telescope yourself, I can no longer give you this telescope and let you see for yourself.
Folks, we have a problem. St. George’s is at risk of becoming like my old telescope. Those of us who come here on a Sunday have for the most part had an experience of church that has worked. For some of you it was right here in this very building, but for most of the rest of us it was in a building much like this where you grew up. We need to ask ourselves, “Is it more about our memorys of that place and that time than it is about now?” I know that this question could be asked about St. George’s as it is for much of the Anglican Church in the area.
It is time for us to do something about it.