“Wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’”
Do you need a restart? I think we all reach points in our life where we need a clean slate, a new beginning. A new year tends to focus our attention on new beginnings. For some of us that focus is expressed in our New Year’s resolutions, the intentions we have for our life, and the plans we make. Others of us may not make resolutions, but still have hopes, dreams, and wishes for the coming year. Some of us simply want a clean slate, a fresh start, a new beginning. The power of the epiphany in today’s gospel is about a clean slate, a fresh start, a new beginning. Isn’tthat what the wise men were doing? They were searching and longing. They represent the yearning of the human spirit to know who God is and what God is doing in the world. When the wise men observed “the star at its rising,” it was a light, an illumination, a knowing that led them. It was that deep kind of knowing, described as happening when you know that you know, but you don’t know how you know what you know. It is the kind of knowing that has power to move us to a higher love, take us to new places, to stir up within us an unquenchable longing, and to open our lives to another.
This kind of knowing does not exclude logic or reason, but neither does it depend upon them. It takes us beyond them. This kind of knowing does not exclude feelings and emotions, but neither does it depend upon them. It takes us beyond them. This kind of knowing does not exclude evidence and explanations, but neither does it depend upon them. This is the manifestation of the star, and it’shappening all the time. His star is always rising. Followingthe star did not happen in the abstract, but in the context, circumstances, and relationships of our lives. Our relationship with Jesus is grounded and experienced in the people and events of our lives and world. It is a life change, a turning point. We look in a new direction. We see with new eyes. We establish new priorities. We travel a new road. Turning points shed new light on what God has done in our lives, what He is currently doing, and where He is leading us.
These turning points come in lots of ways. Sometimes they come as we planned, worked and hoped for. Other times they are completely unexpected and take us by surprise. Sometimes they bring us joy and gladness. They can also be filled with sorrow and loss. Sometimes they affirm everything we thought and believed. Other times, they leave us confused and not knowing what we believe. You’ve probably experienced all of those and more in the turning points of your own life. Think about your turning points, times when, for better or worse, your life was turned around: moving out and beginning life on your own; falling in love and getting married; the birth of your child; the death of a loved one; words or actions that hurt another and forever changed the relationship; graduation from school and beginning your first job; the failure of your business or the loss of your job; your divorce; a success or accomplishment that was really significant or meaningful; discovering the passion that excites, enflames and drives your life; an anniversary grounded in commitment and deep satisfaction; going to your first AA meeting; your new role as a caretaker of your spouse or parent; or a long-time dream that finally came true.
It seems as if our lives are a series of turning points, some big and others small. Regardless, with each turning point we see ourselves, others, and the world differently; we think differently, we focus on different concerns, we ask different questions, and we move in different directions. What they all have in common, however, is the opportunity to refashion our lives. This does not happen in spite of our life’s circumstances, but in and through our life’s circumstances. That’s where and how it happened for the wise men. What is the turning point you face today? What’shappening? What do you see? Somewhere in your life today is a turning point, a place of new beginnings. What I have learned is that these points are not the end of me – they are turning points. Restarts come from these turning points in our lives – points where we have to decide what is most important to us, what we really believe, where we have turned away, and ultimately determine to turn back to God.
Dear Lord, we want to see You clearly! We want to see You working on our behalf in all things, both good and bad, so we can claim Your promises, reclaim Your power, and proclaim your peace in our lives. Father, we pray that the world may see You more clearly through us, and we clearly see the world as You do! Move clearly in our lives and in the lives of all your people. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.