One of the stations in our sacred space invited our visitors to step out onto the kitchen porch, gaze at the stars, and thank God for the beauty of the earth. Our visitors stood in the cold, on our back porch, and searched at the sky. Looking for a star. The star. Most evenings, the sky was quite overcast. It was hard to find any star, much less, follow one.
As the youth were setting up this station, three deer were grazing in the playground. The kids were thrilled to see these graceful creatures, always reminders that even in our highly developed city, peaceful, beautiful, wild animals might appear, always reminders that God is the Creator. But it was hard to see the stars. So it was not clear what we should do.
How can anyone follow a star, if the sky is overcast? What does it mean to follow Jesus when things are not clear? And what does it mean to follow a star in the 21st century? With our modern technology, scientists can see distant galaxies, planets similar to ours, and detect the evidence of black holes. We can look at these pictures on tiny phones that we carry in our pockets. Yet, finding the star that God is calling us to follow is not as easy. In fact, our technology may make it even more difficult to find our way. But certainly God is calling us on a journey. How should I follow God today? How should Hickory Bend follow the star? Where will it lead us? What gifts do we bring?
As we pack up the sacred space on Awakening to an Epiphany, we can remember to carry the light with us. Those of you who traveled through the sacred space are carrying a soldier with you. You have put Kabul time and weather on your phone. You are listening for a bell and remembering that as the People of God, we exist, like the clapper of a bell, between our earthly homes and our heavenly home. You are returning, as the Wise Men returned by a different path. You have been invited to return with a bag of food for the poor. You have tried to return to your own fields, like the shepherds, rejoicing and praising God for all that you have seen and heard.You have thought about the things in 2012 that you can give up and other things that you can increase.
So carry the light with you.
And follow that star. The star is certainly there, and God is certainly guiding us. So often, on my own, life is so difficult and my path is so hard to find! Then we gather to worship. When I am with you, the sky is bright with stars. The clouds lift. I find my path again. I believe that together, we will find our way to return to our fields rejoicing and praising God. Together we can return by a different route. Together.