After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. — Matthew 2:9-11
Growing up, my family spent Christmas Eve on the road traveling to Wellington, Texas from Liberal, Kansas to be with two sets of grandparents and a bevy of aunts, uncles and cousins. Needless to say, going to a Christmas Eve service was not part of the plan; instead our Christmas ritual was driving the highway south.
My mom worked in retail which meant it was dusk before we got on the road for the three-hour drive. Dad was in charge of getting my brother and I “nestled all snugged” in our car’s backseat with snacks and pillows with the hope that by the time we reached the Texas state line we would have “visions of sugar plums dancing in our head” while they enjoyed a “Silent Night.” That usually didn’t happen, so we were often reminded to be on our best behavior because Santa was still watching as we sped down the road. We also entertained ourselves by scanning the sky for his sleigh and those eight magical reindeer.
The last stretch of the drive was a 30-mile flat open country highway between Shamrock and Wellington. It was then we begin scouring the skyline for the “Christmas star.” The star, blue in color, adorned the top of the small town’s tallest building, the three-story courthouse, making it visible several miles outside of the city limits.
My parents made a game out it: “Who can spot the star first?” Once spotted my brother and I became wide awake, excited and inquisitive — questions ranging from are we sure Santa knows to come Grandad Wooldridge’s and not Grandma Williams; will Grandad have milk to go with the cookies we brought for Santa; how late can we stay up; how soon can we go to bed?
The star was a very big deal to us for childish reasons. Eventually, this annual road trip stopped, and the blue star became a childhood memory.
Today, in thinking about the Christmas star, I am drawn to the scripture about the Three Wise Men found in Matthew. Upon seeing the star, their questions and wonderment set them on a journey unlike any journey they had or would ever experience again. They were overcome with joy upon seeing a baby, but it was just not the cuteness of the infant that took them to their knees. It was the realization of who had been born this night – the Prince of Peace; the King of Kings; God in the flesh!
The Christmas star I choose to now follow isn’t found on a building or on the tree; yet it is a guide star pointing me toward one the most precious gifts ever received and setting me on the path of Christian discipleship.
On the night we come together to celebrate the birth of the Christ-child, my hope is that each one of us begin the evening like a child and the Three Wise Men — wide awake, excited and inquisitive. At the end of our celebration, may we continue on a journey of a lifetime as we follow our own little star with our gifts of joy, faith, and spiritual treasures out into the world as our way of sharing God’s light and love with all that we meet.
In the spirit of gratitude, I am thankful that we are in this together as we begin the New Year!
Wishing you peace, hope, love, and joy this Christ-filled season,
Director of Stewardship