Saturday, January 04, 2014

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Today’s text

Matthew 2:1-3, 9-11

After Jesus had been born at Bethlehem in Judaea during the reign of King Herod, suddenly some wise men came to Jerusalem from the east asking, 'Where is the infant king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage.' When King Herod hear this he was perturbed, and so was the whole of Jerusalem …Having listened to what the king had to say, they set out. And suddenly the star they had seen rising went forward and halted over the place where the child was. The sight of the star filled them with delight, and going into the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and falling to their knees they did him homage. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.


Driving home from the office this week, I pulled into a snow-covered parking lot and stared into my phone. I’d received a text from a member asking for prayer. Family members were facing a daunting challenge, and they wanted to be able to do and say the right thing, the helpful thing, the loving thing. But ho could they do that amid tense and emotionally-taxing circumstances?

Sitting in the darkness, I took my phone and wrote a prayer on the little screen on which my clumsy fingers hit more wrong letters than not. I wrote:

God al all peace, sometimes the hurt is so great and our confusion so deep we do not know what to do or say or feel. Nor do we know what we should ask of you. But you know us, and you know our need. So we will ask only for your love and peace to abide in our hearts, trusting that you will never fail or abandon us to face our trials alone. For you are ever with us and your love will always find us, even when our souls tremble within. Be with us now, for you are our peace.

I sent the text, put the car in gear and drove out of the lot. Half block down the street, a wave of gratitude washed over me, lightness filled my being, and I prayed aloud as I drove, “Thank you that I know how to pray. Thank you that I know how to reach out for you. Thank you that I feel you in this heart of mine … and in those for whom I prayed.”

I was thankful that somehow, somewhere, someone taught me to pray … and that Christ had been born in me so that I felt his presence in my life and the lives of those who sought my prayers.

I thought back, too, asking, who taught me the language and attitude of prayer? My mother or father? My pastor when I was a boy? A couple of Sunday school teachers I remember? Or was it only later, in mid-life that I learned how to open my heart and pray from my depths, finding my way into Christ’s presence?

Frankly, I can’t remember who first taught me. Thinking back, I see there were many who taught and guided me, including some who rejected my faith altogether. Their questions moved me further along the way into a deep relationship with Jesus Christ. God’s Spirit used them all.

Unlike the three wise men who came seeking Jesus, you might say there were many stars in my firmament, not just one. Each one shined with the light of Christ’s holy love for me, pulling me along, into the relationship with him that now blesses me … and I hope you, too. 

They moved me to want to kneel at the feet of Jesus as they knelt before him and to offer my gifts as they offered theirs.

I have them to thank for a moment of rich blessing on a cold winter night.

Pr. David L. Miller

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