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Epiphany Stars

When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.   Matthew 2:9

Matthew is the only gospel to tell this story of the Wise Ones, Sages from the East, who come to pay homage to the Christ child.  By paying homage and offering tribute to the child born king of the Jews, the Magi not only fulfilled ancient Scripture, but they also cut King Herod down to size. There is probably no Nativity ever made that included Herod. But, just like the Emperor Augustus in Luke’s gospel, Herod is essential to fully understanding the story Matthew tells.

Jesus wasn’t born into a glittery Christmas card of angels and shepherds and magical stars. He was born into a very real part of the world ruled by Roman emperors and their vassal kings, like Herod—a world where the lust for power and wealth often seemed to have the upper hand over the desires of ordinary people to simply live in peace and raise their families. 

On Epiphany, we celebrate the light of Christ shining in a world still often affected by Herod’s offspring.  They go by different names now, but we know them by their words and their deeds.  Sometimes they rule on the world stage, imagining ALL nations will come and pay them homage.  Sometimes they simply wreak havoc in the smaller spaces of our everyday communities.  But the light of Christ still shines.  The Herods of the world have no lasting power over that.  And, like the Magi, we can follow that same Light.  

One of my favorite traditions is the giving of Epiphany Stars. Each star names a spiritual gift that can help us appreciate God’s presence in our lives. These gifts are manifestations of God’s spirit, so they run completely contrary to the likes of Herod.  They can be guiding lights, helping us keep on course as we follow Jesus. 

I usually tape my star inside the front cover of my daily planner, where it will catch my attention and guide my travels throughout each day. On Sunday my star revealed the word “hope,” appropriate for the mid-point of my first year at St. Stephen’s!

The Herods of the world may have their day.  But that’s all they get. The light of Christ, having come into the world, cannot be extinguished. The darkness has not and will not overcome it. By the gentlest of our words and the tenderest of our deeds, we get to play a part in helping that light shine ever more brightly.

If you missed getting your Epiphany star, there are still plenty. Pick one up the next time you’re on Broom Street or message me and I’ll drop one in the mail.

May the light of Christ brighten our days throughout this new year.


Pastor Sue


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