A star.

Precisely which star they saw is unknown to us.

Could it be Polaris, the Northern Star?
Or some other star?

Could it be a planet
or a super nova?

Could it be another such terrestrial light?

We know not the star.
But we do know that it was light
that began millions, if not billions of years before.
And reached earth.
At the time of Jesus' birth.

We have observed his star at its rising,
the Magi tell King Herod.

And that's about all the Scriptures tell us of this star.
Just enough.
And nothing more.
For us to know that
the star did not simply infatuate these magi,
but compelled them to take the journey,
to risk the journey
from East to West.

Compelled them to travel deep into unknown land.
With a ruler well known to be
evil and vindictive.

Which is one reason, among many,
that had this star been simply a terrestrial phenomenon,
they'd have stayed home.
Observed it up
in the sky
from the place of safety and security
down on earth.

No, there was something more about this star.
Something that prompted these magi, three.
These wise men, as they are often times called.
These wise star-gazers.
To risk their careers.
Their well-being.
Risk their lives.
In a land that was not their own.
With a ruler not their own.
And a small babe offering no obvious benefit
to them.

There was something more about this star.
Something that led these wise three to seek out this
-- child born king of the Jews, --
and bring him.
Gold.
Frankincense.
Myrrh.

Today we celebrate the Epiphany of our Lord.
The revelation of God's love for the whole world
come near in this incarnate babe
born in a stable in Bethlehem.

Nothing about this revelation makes any sense.

A bum royal lineage.
And yet, these magi three.
Come to worship him.
While the nearest ruler quivers.

Complicated parents.
And yet, these magi three.
Present them all with precious gifts.

Poverty of the worst kind.
And yet, these magi three.
With the wealth of the world,
kneel before them.

No real power.
And yet, these magi three.
Honor this babe as king.

No earthly way to affect anything.
And yet, these magi three.
Entrust this Jesus,
this God-made flesh,
with their very lives.

Perhaps it is the promise
of peace.

Perhaps it is the promise
of God dealing with the human family,
in way far kinder
and far more generous
than we deal with ourselves
and with one another.

Perhaps it is the promise
of new life,
that is,
life without fear.
Whatever it was that caused these magi three.
To travel from afar.
Risk their lives.
And bring gifts.
It was much more than a star.

And for us, so much more than a star, too.

For we have come to see this one
who, from his own humble place,
reaches out to those in need.

We have come to behold this one
who brings peace to a waring world,
not by taking up arms,
but by bending down.
untying sandals,
and washing the dirty feet
of his disciples --
including the feet of the one
who will betray him to death.

We have come to be with this one who
eats with those who struggle in mind, body and spirit,
eats with outcasts and sinners,
eats with you and me.

We have come to worship this one
whose own journey
from manger
to cross
to empty tomb
is God's promise of life,
in a world captive to so much
death,
and greed,
and hatred.

Yes, much more than a star.
The body of Christ.

The light of this star
is notable,
is remarkable,
is awe-inspiring
because it shines on the body of Christ.

And not simply the body of Christ
wrapped in swaddling clothes back then,
but the body of Christ,
today.

All of us.
From every corner of the globe.
Every race and nationality.
Every walk of life.
The light of this star
shines on you and me.

Imagine three magi, three wise star-gazers
marveling over you and me.

Think on three of the most influential people you know
-- think on the idea of just one of them --
marveling over our participation in the body of Christ.
Our ways of generosity.
Our ways of grace.
Our ways of forgiveness.

That's what we celebrate this festival day,
this Epiphany of our Lord:
God's revelation,
in Christ Jesus,
in us,
that God's promise and God's purpose for this world
is still well and strong.

In a world that know so much illness and brokenness.
God in us
still seeks healing and wholeness.
At a time filled with so much hate.
God in us
still looks for and insists on love.

Among people who in word and deed
only want to put others down,
God in us
still wants to lift people up.

As it was all those years ago.
So too this star
shines on the body of Christ
God in us
with an important revelation,
a life-giving revelation.
this night.

We need such joy in these early days of 2016.
We need it in all these days of 2016.

And by God's grace.
It shall be.
For it is born in us.
And alive in us.
Among us.
As God's everlasting promise.
Now.
And forever more.
Jared R. Stahler
Saint Peter's Church
In the City of New York

THE EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD
Sunday, January 3, 2016 - Jazz Mass

Isaiah 60:1-6
Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14
Ephesians 3:1-12
Saint Matthew 2:1-12