In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
magi 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.
The star we follow pierces a brittle darkness.
It upsets fearful men in their towers,
it troubles the men hunkered in battlements,
threatens their systems, their powers.
Herod in his private jet rages: he can’t fly above it.
It will arouse the anger of the mighty,
who will slaughter as if to weed out the light.
Its light flows straight through tangled defenses
yet knows how to curve through crooked streets
and find seeking hearts, find souls yearning for light.
This is how God avenges, not with battle
but with light.
The little star will lead us to question powers,
to face down rulers, to follow new roads,
to honor another power, hidden from the mighty.
The star shines day and night, though often
it is only at night we think to look up.
When a new Emperor ascends the throne
we know we have seen him before, and his defeat.
If our night seems thick it is surely
the time of the star.
In the deep night the woods and back roads are alive,
so many escaped slaves are on the move,
so many angels preparing the news.
The little star that leads them will guide us,
if we keep our eyes on the light.
“We have seen his star at its rising
and we have come to honor him.”
God of truth, open my eyes to your light
and give me faith to follow,
to seek signs of your grace, to notice,
in nature, in dreams, in people.
Give me devotion to seek your presence,
to come close to you, to draw near.
Give me faith to forsake all else that glitters
and follow the light of your love alone.
Give me resolve to leave the familiar
and make of my life a holy pilgrimage.
Give me humility to ask directions,
to seek help from other seekers.
Give me steadfastness to seek and not turn back,
despite challenges of distance and strangeness.
Give me courage to stand against Empire
and its desire to use me.
Give me generosity to give of my gifts.
Give me insight to bow to holiness
in whomever I may see it.
Give me wisdom and readiness to go by a new road.
May all I do today honor you.
God of love, may this day be a new life,
guided by the light of your presence,
led by wonder, trust and love. Amen.
The Emperor is always afraid,
his minions always angry.
His Empire is allergic to justice,
terrified of the truth
and powerless over love.
His only hope is fear.
Desperate to replicate himself a thousand times
on coin and tower, monument and shadow,
and in faces etched with fear,
he will pledge to make the kingdom great again
with the usual atrocities.
Unable to be in the same realm
as the Powerless One, the Generous Mystery,
he will abolish grace, as best he can.
He will seek God as diligently as any pilgrim,
with eyes of murder.
The soldiers have their orders, a clean sweep,
to make Bethlehem safe again.
Newscasters have become accustomed now
to the cleansings reported in between the
car crashes and the bad weather,
the latest, breaking from Bethlehem.
The chief of police stretches his vocabulary,
the cameras linger on him
because they cannot bear
Rachel weeping for her children.
Herod is sure of himself
but the Holy One
The Word became flesh and lived among us,
full of grace, full of truth,
from whom we have all received,
grace upon grace.
—John 1.14, 16
Imagine how wrong it would seem
if Jesus would come,
but not believe he was sent
to embody God’s love.
So wrong would it be
for you to not believe
that you are created to embody God’s love.
The mystery of God’s Word
is that it is made flesh.
It is the Word’s nature to be spoken,
not unspoken, to be made manifest,
to be embodied—
in Christ, in all Creation,
and in you.
This day let every moment,
every choice, every action
be an embodiment of God’s love.
And trust this: even when you fail
God’s love is made flesh in you.
In the beginning was the Word
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
Everything that exists came into being through the Word.
Nothing exists apart from the Word.
Everything that exists
was created by God’s love.
Everything is from one Source.
Everything is made from the same stuff.
There is One Thing
and we are all part of it.
God’s love does not come to us from afar.
It is the sea and we are the fish.
To love is not to reach across a great abyss
but to return to the rest of ourselves.
May the light of love
shine in me this day.
May the intimate presence of God draw near to you this holy night.
May the light of God’s love made flesh brighten this night with hope and joy.
May your heart be lifted in thanksgiving for the birth of this radiant child.
Jesus I am with you
in this warm darkness
in the womb
of Mary Mother of God.
I am held.
I am protected.
I am being nourished.
I am not the captain of my being.
All that I am I receive.
I am your Word becoming flesh.
I am waiting.
I am ready.
Light is coming.
I am coming.
You are waiting for me.
I will be pressed, pushed,
born in you, God—
light, the life of all beings.
now, in this warm darkness,
I am held.
Mary, can I sit with you?
Let me come close to your stillness,
sit in the warmth of your Spirit,
listen with you.
Teach me how to do this,
to be so receptive
to the favor of God,
to the voice of delight.
To admit such life.
To let something in me grow
without my control,
to let God in me swell my being,
change my balance.
To let something in me dilate so greatly,
to be so open to what I receive
and what I release.
Breathe with me,
through the change, through the pain,
through the world shifting within me.
Breathe with me,
with the life birthing itself in me,
the world issuing from me.
Can I sit with you and learn
how to bring forth love
in the midst of chaos and darkness,
how to be so fiercely tender
in a rough place?
Show me how to push forth this love,
how to nurse this light,
how to let this issue of my heart
go out into the world
and smile back at me.
Can I sit with you,
as the love of my love
walks out of my arms,
into this world
toward its cross
Can I sit with you
and learn to say yes?
Darkness isn’t a thing.
It doesn’t have power or substance.
It’s not evil, or bad in any way.
But our fear of it is a thing.
It has solid weight in our hearts.
Wearing darkness’ mask,
our fear drives us in ways that are evil.
On this solstice darkness reaches its limit;
the world turns back toward the light.
There is winter yet to come,
but the light has already spoken.
The light shines not to vanquish the darkness,
for the darkness is holy, too,
but to heal our fear,
and to heal the wounds it causes,
and to undo the power of evil.
The world was created in light,
as were you.
From the deep center
you shine with original light,
the light of your very being,
the light of God.
In this world where fear darkens many hearts,
you shine with the light of healing and courage.
God is already turning the world around.
Don’t be afraid of the dark. Shine in it.
God said, I love my creatures,
so much that I wish to be with them.
I wish to give myself to them.
I wish to be one of them.
Which one will you be?
the angels asked.
You could be a tree, they said,
for they are long-living and steadfast.
Or will you be a lion,
for they are powerful and without fear?
Might you be a porpoise,
for their playfulness?
Or a bird, for their freedom of flight?
Perhaps you will be an elephant,
for they are gracious and gentle.
Ah, you will be a fungus,
humble and unnoticed but essential.
No, you will be a whale,
great and unseen and full of song.
No, God said, this is not for me
and my delight, nor for my glory.
This is for my creatures.
I will be a human being,
for it is they who need the most help.
I will be one of them,
we will mend ourselves.