Would it be stating the obvious to write, “We live in an angry and confused time”?
A mere four years ago, Democrats alleged the 2016 election was fraudulent and illegitimate. This year has seen the proverbial shoe placed upon the other foot. Politics has always been rough and tumble. It has resulted in duels to the death, produced the fiercest of enemies, and often destroyed faith in others.
Racial tensions have increased after improving for decades following the work of Dr. Martin Luther King and others. The light resulting from long overdue steps toward equality has dimmed as the result of acts of injustice. Mistrust isolates sincere people who possess the same desire of true equality, because they believe in different steps and actions to accomplish the goal. Suspicion of others rarely leads to positive results.
Class warfare and envy are increasingly rooted in calls to overturn the economic system upon which the United States has been built. Jealousy is a familiar, nearly predictable, human response to wealth and power. Sadly, though it has proven to be a self-destructive emotion that never achieves the positive results, resentment appears to be the driving force for some.
Without being simplistic, we would suggest the first step toward healing suspicion, mistrust, and hatred is to follow the Star again this year. This is not a search for a magic pill to suddenly cure all ills, but a search for the spring of life that reshapes lives and motives. The story of the birth of Jesus as told in the gospels of Matthew and Luke reveals the joy, the power, and the result of the birth of Jesus.
The birth of Jesus unites people of disparate wealth, education, and power. Luke tells the story of angels appearing to shepherds in the field nearby Bethlehem who immediately went into the village to see “this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known.” Matthew shares another element of the story about a visit from “magi” who had traveled some distance to worship the birth marked by the star. There could not be a more distinct difference between these groups. Some smelled of sheep and had no gift other than themselves to bring. Others carried the most expensive perfumes and had the financial resources to travel great distances. The birth of Jesus still unites the impoverished and the wealthy. The birth of Jesus places those who have no means of travel other than by foot and those who can afford to fly by private jet on the same level!
Following the Star unites all colors of skin, all textures of hair, and all those of every physical trait around the birth of Jesus! Did you ever notice that the land of the Bible record is the crossroads of every nationality, but the Old and New Testament makes no issue of what mankind has come to call “race.” The Romans were Caucasians from Europe. The people groups of the Mediterranean region are of varying shades of brown skin. The “magi” of Matthew were likely people from the east and Oriental in nature. Still, the Bible record makes no reference about skin color, because it does not matter. Every human is created in the image of God and the birth of Jesus belongs to every people group!
Finally, following the Star shows that God united all of Heaven and earth in the birth of Jesus. Who announced the birth of the child to the shepherds? An angel of heaven, of course. The record shows the shepherds were frightened at the sight of a heavenly being. I don’t blame them. This was not a human being standing there! If there has ever been a time that humanity needs the power of God to unite heaven and earth to move the hearts of mankind, it is now. Thankfully, God has already done it! You and I can set aside our differences, because all of time and space are united in the birth of Jesus!
For all of the frustrations of this year, I am thankful for 2020. I have been frustrated by this year “in spades.” I am tired of people insisting that we need to be divided and judged by the group to which they insist we belong. I am weary of the impact of COVID-19 and ready for it to end. However, I am thankful for 2020, because God rekindled a bit of the mystery of the birth of Jesus for me. It was a fresh look at the stories of Matthew and Luke that helped me see the unity of the world in the shadow of the star. I stand united with every person of every color of skin. God made us equally wonderful, and we stand united around his cradle and his cross. I stand united with every person of meager circumstances and outlandish wealth, because we unite in our worship of Jesus.
May the unity I find in the shadow of the star begin to reshape my mind and remold my spirit. May I become more forgiving than ever. May the virtue of God’s generosity reveal itself more in 2021. May the love God has for every human being become a passion in my life as never before. I hope you too find the grandeur, the beauty, and mystery of the birth of Jesus as I have.