After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:1-2).
The season of Advent is a season of great expectation, and together we continue in this epic journey that began more than two thousand years ago.
We follow the star and discover the light of the world. It’s a journey that will get our heart and minds focused/realigned; a journey that will explore the gifts of Christmas delivered by and through Christ: hope, love, joy, and peace. It's a journey of the heart and soul.
Friends, we all need hope in the storms of life and love that never gives up. We need fresh joy on our journey and peace no matter what we’re facing or dealing with.
Today’s object in Gift Bag 18 is the Star of Bethlehem. It’s interesting, this star is quite central in the Christmas story isn’t it? However, its only briefly mentioned in the Bible.
The story of the wise men from the East who followed a star is only mentioned in Matthew’s Gospel account of Christ’s coming (Matthew 2).
There is much discussion by scholars and scientists about what the star actually was, who the wise men were, and when the star appeared. It's believed that the wise men only got to Christ a year or more after He was born.
However, friends, it really doesn’t matter. Despite the various debates, the bottom line is that the light of a star led people to Jesus, the light of the world.
As we continue on this journey this Advent season, I encourage all of us to look for the light. The Advent season is not just about the destination - Christmas morning - but it's also about the journey.
In a season of busyness, stress, rushing around, of noise and distraction, this is a season:
To pause and to ponder,
To focus again on the true meaning of this time of year.
You know, it's kind of interesting that God chose a star to guide the wise men to Bethlehem.
Throughout the Bible, we see how God uses His own creation to reveal Himself to us.
The psalmist put it beautifully in Psalm 19:1–4 which says,
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”
So the stars testify to the greatness of God.
However, the thing about stars, just like a flashlight, they can’t be seen in the light. They are there, but we can’t see them. In fact, they are seen best
on the darkest of nights,
when there is no moonlight,
away from the lights of the city.
The darker the setting, the brighter the starlight.
This time of year, there's going to be a lot of distractions: lights/colours/decorations. Nothing wrong with any of that but sadly many will hide behind the artificial lights in order to try and get away from the darkness gnawing away inside.
But this is the truth to grasp today:
Unless we face that darkness and call it what it is we will struggle to see the true light.
Unless we acknowledge the darkness, we will struggle to see the star that leads us on the journey.
As we journey together toward Christmas this Advent season, let’s be honest about the darkness we find ourselves in - and my, oh my, let’s face it – 2020 has been a pretty dark year on many fronts.
The beauty of the journey of hope is that when it seems things cannot get any darker, when we are at the wits end corner of our lives, it is then that God shows up. This season we are reminded yet again that Jesus entered our darkness that first Christmas and its into the darkness of ours situations today that He enters again.
Friend, I don’t know what dry patch you find yourself in in your life. You've been standing on the parched ground of your life for as long as you can remember, looking up at the sky, waiting for rain.
This Advent Season, by God's grace, I declare into your situation of death and drought that
There's a rumble in the distance.
There is a promise of rain.
The waiting will soon be over.
That's what this journey of hope is all about.
The hope of His coming at Christmas;
The assurance that He walks with us today; and of course
The hope that He will return in glory, and we will be with him forever!
Surrounded by darkness, without and within,
Hopelessness, helplessness the order of the day;
Precious Lord, send the light, the Light has come,