Episcopal Church in Minnesota

Environmental Stewardship Commission
Lectionary Reflection
Year A, The Epiphany, Gospel

Matthew 2, vs 1-12:
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
`And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
     are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
     who is to shepherd my people Israel.'"
Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage." When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
Reflection on Matthew 2, vs 1-12:
by the Rev Wanda Copeland

In the ancient Near East, people thought of the stars as supernatural beings.  As such, the stars influenced the course of human history.  Astrologers who could interpret the stars (and hence the future) had great power.  Looking at the stars, watching for patterns or unusual occurrences was important work.  Imagine the excitement, and perhaps the terror, in seeing the Star of Bethlehem.  Whether a comet or a periodic, but unusual alignment of planets, or something entirely different, the appearance of the star recorded in Matthew must have drawn lots of attention.
While we don¹t know Matthew¹s reason for recording this piece of information for us, we can imagine that reverence and importance would have been added to Jesus¹ birth if it was known that other "gods" acknowledged Jesus¹ birth.  Even the heavens bowed down to Jesus, and foreign gods worshipped him.  We say, in our Nicene Creed, that through him all things were made. Whether supernatural, or entirely natural, it seems appropriate that all of creation recognized Jesus and came to him at the time of his birth. In what ways does nature still acknowledge Jesus¹ birth?  In the lengthening of days (coming of the light from the darkness, warming of the earth for those in the Northern Hemisphere.)  The signs of welcome and rejoicing are many, if we but take the time to look.

The Rev Wanda Copeland is a rector of Holy Trinity Church, Elk River, MN, and Co-chair of the Environmental Stewardship Commission. She originally wrote this reflection in 1999.  Wanda and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to Wanda Copeland or any MEESC member, or mail them to:

c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

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