“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. Matthew 2:1-12
Today is the 12th anniversary of 911, a day that changed all of our lives forever. We travel another way now, cautious and examined, fear guiding us rather than hope. We became more vulnerable as a nation and people on 911 and the many who lost loved ones will never be the same. We were broken and have lived through war and more loss since that time. It changed our nation, our people are our sense of ourselves.
The story of the wise men visiting the infant Jesus changes the whole story. The strange visitors from foreign lands worried Herod to the point of acting out in fear. These men were not coming to invade or destroy but rather to identify what God was doing, having seen it in the stars. The joy they shared with that small family was hidden from the people. Instead innocents would be slaughtered because of fear and anxiety. God brought love into the world and the people in charge responded from a place of fear, greed and anxiety. We are invited by God, on this solemn anniversary to be led by the stars and our dreams rather than our fears. The God who would protect the wandering wise men will also speak love and healing to us in this age.
Today, I ask God to help me be in constant prayer for all those who mourn, those who live with loss and those who have offered their lives in service of others. May we be grateful for those people who are willing to live sacrificially and who seek to transform our world from a place of fear to a place of welcome for all. May we take time to listen to God today.