A little background on this homily: I almost always preach from a text, at the ambo. On occasion, I'll preach without a text and while standing apart from the ambo, perhaps moving around the sanctuary, nave as I do so. Today was a "preaching-on-the-move-Sunday" because of a visual I used. After the gospel was proclaimed by the deacon, I went to the ambo and told the people I needed to get something for my homily and invited our pianist to lead us in one more chorus of our entrance song, "We Three Kings." As everyone joined in singing, I went behind our raised platform ambo (see photo below) and raised up the star you see in the photo above. The star was attached to a silver-foiled flexible tube which enabled me to lift it about 4 feet above my head and the flex in the tube gave the star a floating life of its own! I preached while walking about the church, extending the star over the heads of the folks in the pew, finally returning to the ambo proper where I slipped the tube into a base which allowed the star to sit just over the altar. You had to be there to get the full effect but I hope this background helps. The text below is a summary of what I preached "on foot" but approximates fairly well the message of my homily.
(Photos by Brenda Brenon, taken after Mass; click on images for larger, more detailed versions)
(H/T to the Concord Carpenter for crafting the silver flex-tube and the base.)
Homily for Epiphany 2009
Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6
Star of wonder, star of night; Star with royal beauty bright;
Westward leading, still proceeding; Guide us to they perfect light!
I wanted everyone to have the opportunity
to walk under the star that guided the magi!
Today they would have used Triple A or MapQuest or a TomTom
but in their day - they depended on a star for guidance,
It’s the curious tale in the gospel here
that finds us following seers from where-we-do-not-know
seeking the Christ Child by a star’s light.
There are some things about their journey
that might be valuable for us to consider on our own journeys.
First, in following the star,
the magi had to look up -- up and out of their own experience --
to follow a light beyond their reach, beyond their control,
a light that would lead them where-they-did-not-yet-know…
And in following the star,
the magi had to leave behind what they knew best,
they had to leave the comforts of home
and set out on a journey beyond the familiar…
And in following the star,
the magi had to let go something of their self-determination
and let God have a hand in charting their journey…
The magi are important for us
not so much for their finding the Christ Child,
but in their seeking him:
their looking up beyond themselves;
their willingness to leave some things behind
in favor of finding something more valuable;
and their letting God stake a claim on their hearts.
Epiphany’s star invites us, as it invited the magi:
to look up out of the day to day,
and to follow a light not of our own making;
to leave behind the things we do not really need
to lighten the load for the journey we’re on;
and to let go some of our own plans
and let God be our companion and guide along the way.
Foolish people will find these suggestions pious and impractical;
wise women and men will find them potent and promising…
For now, the star of Epiphany brings us to the table of Jesus
and as surely as the magi found the Child in Mary’s arms
so do we find Christ here in the bread and cup of the Eucharist.
May the supper we share at the altar nourish us for the journey
and may Christ, the light of the world,
be the star that guides our hearts and our lives.