Sermon: “Unseen Stars”
Rev. Glenn G. Grant
Kirkridge Presbyterian Church
Transcription from January 9, 2022
Sermon transcription is automatically generated. Please forgive any grammatical errors.
Most of you know that I grew up in Scouts. First as a scout, then as a staffer at scout camp, then as a chaplain, a scout camp, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, through the years. And of course, as a dad of scouts, and over the years, I've been involved in… 3, 4, 5, 6, been involved with at least six different scout camps.
Anybody has had boys who go through scouting. They know that one of the things that they offer at summer camp is astronomy merit badge. And it seems to be an unwritten rule that the night that they're supposed to be doing their observations for astronomy merit badge it is going to be cloudy.
Yeah. Any Scouts or scouters that disagree with that statement? No, it just happens, right? They can work in, it doesn't matter what night of the week they scheduled that for that night, it's going to be cloudy. You don't see a thing,
But sometimes you have other opportunities as well. Uh, I never did astronomy merit badge, so I didn't have to worry about that one, but I did go through Scouts when one of the requirements for first class was that you had to name the constellations, I think was it 10 constellations or something like that? You had to be able to point out and name
And that was pretty easy for the most part because it was Cassiopeia was Cephus. It was the big dipper, the little dipper. It was Orion, which of course, if you try to do it in the summertime, you're going to have problems. You have to get one in the winter. And of course, you had to be able to point out the north star.
But I also had an occasion when I was out on a scout trip where I couldn't find the constellations and it wasn't because I didn't know where to look. And it wasn't because it was cloudy. It was because I was so far away from city lights. There were too many stars visible to pick out the constellations.
How many people have been in a place like that? You have to get away from city lights. If you haven't ever had that opportunity. We have a couple of dark parks as they call them in the state of Michigan where lights are forbidden after sunset. One of them I think, is Pinkney. Then you have to go up to the tip of the Mitt. And then there's one on the upper peninsula. State parks, where lights are forbidden after dark. And then you can see the glory of the heavens.
I can just imagine the Magi astrologers looking out at the stars at a time when there weren't city lights to obscure the view. You know, the closest thing we get to it now is looking at some of the images that have come from the Hubel telescope.
But I can just imagine them looking out and suddenly seeing something appearing in the sky that they weren't anticipating. Now, these were people that follow the stars. They knew which stars would be where, when and yet they saw something that they weren't anticipating.
Now, this day and age, we talk about following the stars and it's more likely that people think you're talking about watching entertainment tonight, but we have other stars that we need to be watching for. And what's even more important is sometimes we need to watch for the unseen star. It's like taking the decorations off the Christmas tree and trying to find that last one, that last one. And no matter how hard you try before you actually take the tree down, it seems like there's always still one you find after the tree is horizontal. Or if you don't have a real tree, maybe as you're folding the branches up or disassembling the tree.
We just took our tree down Friday. And as I was folding it up, I found one more decoration and it was a star. It was this little origami paper star.
And that just, it kind of blew me away because I had already, was it about two weeks ago that I've put this service bulletin together with a sermon one title. So. To have this illustration two days ago. It was phenomenal.
Yeah. It helped me see, what are the stars? What are the unseen stars that we have in our lives today? What are those unseen things they come up suddenly and point us to God, maybe, maybe it was that phone call that you got from somebody that seemingly was out of the blue,
or maybe it was that chance encounter with someone that you hadn't seen in a number of years. Or maybe it was finding something in the house that you thought was long lost.
You know, we do that. We're cleaning up from one holiday and I know some people don't clean up from one holiday. They just take away everything that's not red or white and leave it up for Valentines day, you know, after Christmas. But as we shift through the seasons, we do have a tendency to clean our houses up or rearrange things a little bit, put things away, get things out.
And sometimes in that process, we find something that we weren't expecting to find.
And is that something that might be pointing you to God?
Maybe it's going back and sorting through papers that have piled up, waiting for you to deal with them. You know, we all have that place right, where we put things to deal with them later. And eventually we have to sort through them and deal with them. And maybe it's in going through that. And you find something that spurs a memory.
Is that pointing you to God, maybe it is. Maybe it is. The thing is, is most of us don't get these clear signs like we have on the roadway that say stop or one way or right turn only, or no left turn. We don't get those clear signs like that. As far as our faith is concerned. Our signs are much more likely to be something like that unseen, unexpected star.
We call or we refer to the people that came to see Jesus and went to Herod first ss Magi, wise. men, song tells us they were Kings. While they probably weren't, they weren't Kings. They probably were members of the court, a Royal court. Because every king would have astrologers in his court. It would help the king understand events that were going on in the world by their interpretation of what was going on in the stars.
We have those people. We don't even know that there were three that's only the song that tells us that there were 3 gifts. It could have been two, it could have been 20, but they brought three gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And we refer to them as wise. Why were they wise? What our Christian beliefs tell us that they were wise because they saw a sign and followed it and it brought them to Jesus.
That's why they're wise. Right? That's why they were wise. They saw a sign and they followed it and it brought them to Jesus. Whom they worshiped. And then being warned by God, they went back home by another route, totally ignoring the illegitimate king of the Jews who was so Jewish he didn't even know the scriptures and the prophecies saying where this Messiah would be born.
Yeah. There's that little catch in this story as well. Herod, who was supposed to be a Jew serving as a king in Rome’s support. I didn't even know the prophecies that every young Jewish boy would have learned going through the bar mitzvah.
So we have a contrast. We have a contrast between Herod supposedly representing human power representing Rome, representing government, representing society. You know, all of Jerusalem was troubled with him according to Matthew. All of Jerusalem was troubled with him. And yet for all that Herod represented by contrast, we have these people that travel from somewhere far to the east, probably Persia who have come seeking. And it's a contrast between worldly wisdom, worldly strengths, worldly power, and what God recognizes as wisdom.
So, if we want to be, if we want to recognize what God's relationship is with us, we have to be open to all the different kinds of signs that may be pointing us in that direction.
Matthew made it pretty clear. You know, we have to remember Matthew was written after the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, more than a lifetime after Christ, but Matthew was making clear to his readers that the temporal powers of this earth, aren't where the wisdom is. And that says a lot to us for today.
The temporal powers are not where the wisdom is. The wisdom is in seeking God. The wisdom is in seeking God. And that is not always easy, you know, in today's society to try to follow what we have learned and let that lead us to Christ. Let that lead us in a way that we are following Christ. So I know that this isn't technically epiphany Sunday.
This is technically baptism of the Lord Sunday, but the epiphany message is so important and not just because it's our last chance to sing a Christmas Carol or two, but because it's important that we are reminded that in spite of all that's going on in the world around us, that we are called to seek and follow Christ and all that entails.
And if those wise men didn’t follow the message they had gotten from God, they would've gone back to Herod. They would've submitted to that earthly power, but they were wise enough not to.
So if we're going to do that, we have to think about what are the earthly or what are the unseen stars in our life. Something somebody says to you, something you read, something you see on TV, something you see in nature.
Something you see, when you look at the sky on a clear winter's night, and there are so many stars that you…
what are the unseen stars?
They just opened up an unfolded mirrors on a new telescope that they say is 10 times more powerful than the huble,
what are the unseen stars, the data will reveal?
if we had that kind of a telescope for our spiritual lives, what would it reveal? And would we be willing to travel, to follow it?
Let us pray, gracious and heavenly father. We know that you give us signs all the time in our lives, help us keep our hearts and our minds open to your signs and be willing to follow, to be willing, to travel physically, spiritually, emotionally, to wherever they lead us. In Christ's name, we pray