READING: Matthew 2:1-12
SERMON : "The Magi - Star Trek"
Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
The following sermon was first written in 1993 and
has been on our site since the beginning in 1996. A
liturgy to surround the sermon was written in 2003 and
is in place under "Epiphany" on our Year B Sermons
page. Other Narrative Sermons can be found on our
Narrative Sermons page.
This story of the Magi I am about to tell focuses on the journey
- and like many stories - it has an allegorical aspect to it -
that is to say people or events in the story can be taken to
represent people or events in our own life stories.
Christian life, the life of God's people, is most often
represented in the bible and in literature, as a journey. - a
journey that begins with our confession of Jesus Christ as our
Lord and Saviour, and ends when we at last meet him and the
Father, face to face, in God's heavenly kingdom.
The story of the Magi is our story for that very reason. It is
also our story because the Magi were, according to tradition,
the very first Gentiles to whom God revealed his purpose in
Christ Jesus and who, in the end, not only worshipped Jesus, but
met him face to face.
Now the story:
He was tired,
the journey had been long and very hard at times,
and despite the companionship that he enjoyed on the way,
he had often found himself feeling discouraged.
But for all that -tonight was special,
His journey was over and he felt a peace in his heart he had
never felt before..
It had all begun months earlier - it seemed like years now -
when he had noticed a new star in the heavens, a star that
did not belong there
one that had never been there before.
At first he thought that he had made a mistake,
that the charts that he had relied upon for years were in error,
but as night followed upon night he saw that the star moved,
that it was changing position against the familiar
Finally, - certain of his discovery, and not sure what to make of
it, he told another astrologer at the Shah's court about what he
Events followed fairly quickly then... at first anyway.
After his discovery was confirmed by his friend all the Shah's
astrologers and soothsayers gathered to observe the star and to
discuss what it meant.
After a few days of intense debate,
days in which astrological charts were cast in the dozens,
and clerks scurried back and forth with complicated calculations,
after an incredible amount of work and confusion,
it was decided that the star signalled the birth of a new king,
in fact of a great king -
and that this king had been born, or was about to be born,
in a land somewhere to the west of them.
For another few weeks various attempts were made to discover what
king had been born in the western lands
or what Queen was expecting a child,
but, because there was no news to be had from those far lands
and because the Shah still expected advice every day and
couples still wanted charts drawn up when their children
and because business too was very good among the
merchants who wished to know the best time to buy and
sell their goods,
because of all these things, very soon most of the wise men in
the land forgot about the new star and the excitement caused by
But there were some who could not forget, and he and two others
continued to discuss the star long after the news of its
appearance had faded from the minds of the rest.
It seemed to him and two of his companions that the star was a
sign of tremendous significance.
Never had they heard of a new star appearing
and never had they seen a star move in the heavens.
Together they discussed how the star must be a sign from the gods
that something very important was happening and that the king
whom everyone had agreed the star heralded was no ordinary king.
The star was a such a powerful sign, that he finally resolved to
set forth and to find the king who lay beneath it.
He knew that his life would be incomplete if he did not meet
the king the star pointed to.
His two friends, who were equally excited by the star and in awe
of the power it pointed to, agreed to go with him on his trip.
So it was that one night, leaving behind all that they held dear
and knew so well, they set forth.
They had travelled a long way since then, a long way,
and often the way had been difficult,
often there had been delays and uncertainties,
often there had been danger and confusion..
There were times when he and his friends could not move onward,
the sky would be obscured by clouds and they could not be
sure if they were heading in the right direction
and so they would set up camp wherever they found
themselves and wait.
Always when he had to wait he lost some of his confidence.
He was never sure if, when the clouds parted once again, that the
star would still be in the sky.
Perhaps it would disappear from view as suddenly as it had
perhaps he was chasing a ghost star,
a star with no real significance,
a star with no real existence.
Perhaps he was a fool on a fool's errand.
At other times - when the star shone brightly and the three of
them could move onward
their progress was impeded by terrain that even people
travelling by day would have had trouble with.
A leg of their journey that local residents told them would only
take a day would take three,
and the easy paths that other travellers told them about
never seemed to be as easy as they expected.
It seemed at times that there had never been a easy night for
always there was some anxiety or other to disturb them -
even on the most level paths;
sometimes, in fact, those paths worried him the most,
for there others might be roaming, others with evil on
their minds, others ready to kill or steal from passing
But the worst thing, the thing that made the journey the hardest,
was the comments of others.
Most of the people they met on their way could not understand why
they were following a star.
They thought they were crazy to travel by such an obscure light,
crazy to have left behind the safety of their own land,
and the security of their jobs in the Shah's court.
They would ask him and his friends why they had not stayed at
home with the other wise men,
and they would suggest, without actually saying so,
that perhaps they were not as wise as those others who
had seen the star, but not followed it.
"So, a king has be born" they would say,
"This happens every day - so what is so special about this
king that you would undertake this journey. What possible
difference can it make to you?"
And when he or one of the others replied that this king had a
special star, a kind of star never seen before, they would laugh
and say that life was too good to go off chasing after a king
that no one had ever seen, let alone heard about.
Even the other astrologers they consulted along the way thought
that he and his friends were being foolish.
"What difference can it make to you", they would ask?
"Right now you could be making a handsome profit
casting charts for businessmen or telling your nation's
generals when to make war and when to make peace, and
instead here you are wandering the world looking for
someone or something that may not even exist."
And so the days and the weeks passed.
They pressed onward,
but often they wondered if anything would come of it,
and always, even on those marvellous days
when they had no doubts of their own,
they had to contend with the doubts of others.
There had been days, when resting by the roadside in their camp,
or casting charts in a village square to earn money
to pay for their food and lodging,
he had been tempted to give up his quest.
He would feel comfortable, money would be jingling in his purse,
his belly would be full, and he would think about the hazards of
their journey, and how good he it felt to do what everyone else
did, and he would forget the new king for a while.
But then night would come and he and his companions would look up
and they would see the star,
and it would seem to outshine the others in the sky,
and realizing just how special it was and how important the
new king had to be,
they would once again mount their camels and set forth to find
Yes, he was very tired, the journey had been long and very hard
at times, but tonight was special, he had at last arrived at the
place the star had led him to.
The country he and the others were in that night was not a very
important one. It lay under Roman rule - and it was primitive
But they had heard rumours that a king was supposed to be born in
it, and when they had gone to the capital city and asked about
that king, the man who governed the nation had told them to go
and check in a town called Bethlehem.
Earlier that night they had left the city.
The star had shone brightly from the direction that Herod had
indicated and they had followed it, until they had entered the
village of Bethlehem, and when they had arrived there it seemed
to him that the star was, for the very first time, directly above
his head, and that it shone in a special way upon one house.
He had dismounted and with the other two had entered the house
and saw an infant child in his mother's arms.
For a moment he doubted that he had found the great king,
for though the star shone through the chimney hole so that its
light seemed to rest upon the child's face - everything else
seemed to be all wrong.
There was no sign of royal wealth in the house -
- there were no expensive oils to sooth the skin,
- no costly furs or linens upon the sleeping pads to bring
easy sleep to the baby,
- there was nothing in fact to indicate that the babe was
anything but the child of a poo peasant,
of a man, who by the few tools and pieces of wood
stacked in a corner seemed to be a carpenter.
Yet - there was a feeling in the room, a feeling that seemed to
radiate from both the mother and the child, and the star light
seemed to cast a halo around them.
So he had explained to the woman why he was there with the
others, and in return she had told him of a dream she had,
a dream in which her God had told her she would bear a child
to rule his people and to bring light to the gentiles.
Then her husband told them that the baby was special,
and that when he had been born shepherds had seen angels and
come to the stable were the baby had been born and
worshipped the child.
And then he had looked again at the child, and at his mother,
and he thought about the light she had mentioned,
and how the star had brought him to this very place,
and a feeling of joy overcame him,
a feeling that he saw had overcome his friends.
Then, without a word to each other, they had knelt, and paid
homage to the new king,
they had prayed that God his father would bless him in all
his days, and make him greater even than the star that had
led them to him,
and then they had given the child those things that they had
brought to give to the new born king
gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Now, outside the little house he thought about his journey,
he felt tired,
but he felt too a peace that he had never felt before,
he realized that he would never feel incomplete again,
for the king who had been born,
was not a kinglike all the other kings he had known,
for he was a king who would look after all those who were like
him: the poor, the weak, and the humble.
He was a king who would conquer with love, and rule with
He realized that somehow the God that Mary spoke of
was the only God that mattered,
and that this God was in the child they had seen.
He prayed for the second time that night,
he prayed that he might be one of those loved by that child,
one of those loved by that God,
and that he might always see the light of his star inside
his heart and follow his way,
and he knew even as he prayed - that his prayer would be
It had been a long journey,
at times it had been a discouraging journey,
but it had been a worthwhile journey,
because not only had he found a great king,
he had also found a God who cared so much for
the world, that he had taken on flesh and dwelt among his
LET US PRAY:
Dear Lord God - open to us the way of this new year,
the way to you.
Help us follow the light you have placed in our hearts,
give us courage to go on despite the dangers,
despite the uncertainties,
despite the doubts.
In times of ease - help us not to forget your purpose
for our lives,
In times of darkness - give us encouragement.
When others question us - build us in our resolve to
follow in your path
When others attack us - defend us with your spirit.
Bring us to the joy, the hope, the peace, and the love, you have
We ask in Jesus' name. Amen
HYMN: Wise Men Seeking Jesus
copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 1993 - 2006
please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.