“Star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect light.”
Many of you know I did my congregational internship in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. This city prides itself in being The Christmas City. The historic downtown, the Moravian churches, and the north side of town deck itself in greenery and white lights. When you cross the river onto the south side of the city, the city is covered in different colored lights all over the main streets. Lehigh University and Moravian College each hold their Christmas vesper services, alongside congregations hosting Christmas and Advent Lessons and Carols services. Beeswax candles with red ribbons are sold in every store.
But after all of the Christmas decorations are taken down in early January, one piece remains up and lit every day. On South Mountain, a large star remains lit every evening. As you drive around Bethlehem, and even all the way to the nearby town of Nazareth, PA, you can see this star lit — guiding and reminding us of what happened in a different Bethlehem, thousands of years ago.
Before we conclude our Christmas celebration, we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany, where the Magi arrived in Bethlehem offering gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Guided by a star that hung over Bethlehem, they arrived to learn the stories they had heard about a new king were true. A new way of living was not just a dream — it was incarnate hope.
During the season of Epiphany, we hear stories of Jesus’ life — his baptism, his calling the first disciples, his teaching during The Sermon on the Mount, and finally being Transfigured on the Mountain, in the company of Moses and Elijah. These are all instances where Jesus shows us how life looks after God came to dwell among us — stories and teachings of how hope became reality instead of a dream — moments we remember when we see the stars in the sky, reminding us of the star that leads us to this story that began in Bethlehem.
Peace & Blessings,