Become a star

Sometimes we want to blend in. There is comfort in anonymity. There is security in routine and “met” expectations. But doing what you’ve always done, will get you what you’ve always gotten. God loves us as we are, but he is in the process of making us new; our obedience in that process matters…to others and to us.

The shepherds (Luke 2:8-20) are mentioned only in Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth. They were out in the field in the middle of the night, doing what they always did, what they were supposed to do. They were ordinary men doing a menial job when God sent angels to interrupt their sleep, their schedule, their expectations, and their lives. They weren’t special because of who they were; they became special because of what they did. They weren’t angry because of lost sleep; they weren’t dismissive because their agenda had been interrupted; they saw enough glory in the angels to want more. For 400 years God hasn’t spoken to his people, and now these angels beckon them. “Come on. I know where you can find God.” And the shepherds left what they were doing and walked back into town and found the promised Messiah wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. They saw the face and tiny hands of God himself.

The Wise Men (Matt 2:1-12) were astrologers. They weren’t looking for a Messiah, because, most likely, they didn’t even know Yahweh. They were watching heaven, trying to make sense of what they were seeing. But what made these men different was that they didn’t just catalog and record data from their study; they wanted to see and understand what it meant. There was a new star in their sky, and they couldn’t rest until they made sense of it. They interrupted their lives and packed their camels and journeyed many weeks or months over hundreds of miles to find what they didn’t know, but desperately want to understand.

The shepherds were asleep; the Wise Men were watching. The shepherds were society’s outcasts with no education and probably very little money or earthly wealth. The Wise Men were well educated, admired for the knowledge and expertise, and were paid by the king.

The shepherds weren’t looking for God; they were looking for a good night’s sleep…but God came to find them with a holy, once in a lifetime invitation. The Wise Men intentionally sought a God they didn’t know based on what they did know. Both paid attention; both went looking for God; both found him; both worshiped him; both returned to where they came from, forever changed by the result of their obedience to the call of God.

Sometimes the glory of God is right where you live, but you have to be willing to be interrupted to see it. Sometimes seeing God’s glory comes as a result of a long journey of looking for answers and seeking explanation and meaning. Sometimes God interrupts your life and forces you to choose between what you know and what you’ve planned and what he says. All the time, when you seek him, you will find him. Your seeking might just be over the next hill back to the town you know, or it might be a long journey to a place you’ve never been. The angels might make themselves known to you, or they might just invisibly guard and guide you into the presence of God.

Where are you this Christmas? Are you mired in the mundane? Do you need just a glimpse of glory to help you choose obedience? Or are you in an unfamiliar place desperately seeking answers to things you don’t understand?
Both groups traveled from where they were to where he was, in full expectation of finding him. What do you expect from God? What will you give him? A heart full of hope and expectation that he can use to spread the news of his birth and love to others who don’t know him? Or will you bring him the talents and blessings he’s given you so that you will be a blessing to others?

He is Immanuel, God with us. He may choose to interrupt you this week with glory, or he may choose to gradually, tenderly draw you from where you are to where he is. Either way, don’t miss it. The king of Heaven came to Earth to find you. Get rid of the clutter of distractions and the need to control and let him interrupt your life. Don’t miss the awe of finding the Messiah. And when you do, tell what you know about him to the people who aren’t looking for him, who don’t know where to find him, who refuse to be moved by the power and promise of Christmas. You become the angel or the star that calls them from where they are to where he is so that they can see God’s glory come to Earth, too.

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