When I was in seminary, the first on campus job I had was with maintenance. It was my job to handle night watch. My basic duties were to be the on-call person on campus during none business hours. This meant opening doors to rooms for people when they locked themselves out, handling maintenance calls from residents and deciding if a maintenance man needed to be called, checking all the furnaces at midnight and locking up and unlocking the buildings as needed. It wasn’t a bad job but it was one the Bill hated that I did. There were areas I had to go that were secluded and had no cell signal.
It was my custom that I would never bother to turn the lights on in the buildings as I walked down the hallways because that would mean that in these old buildings I would have to double back to turn them off again. I knew my way like the back of my hand and I would just walk in the darkness. This sometimes really scared the heck out of some of the people working in the computer room who didn’t know I was in the building, which would give me a chuckle. I was mistaken for a ghost more than once.
It strikes me that sometimes we all travel this life in the dark. We all go through spiritual times of darkness when we can’t make sense out of life and it really does feel like we are just blindly feeling around and hoping that we are traveling in the right direction. This is what Israel was going through for generations. They had started with the Babylonian exile that we hear reference to in the Isaiah reading. Many people returned generations later when the Persians allowed them to leave, but not everyone left. Many had made new homes in Babylon. Israel struggled with puppet rulers and the outright rule of foreign powers for generations. These foreign powers required taxation, tribute, land, and many tried to force the worship of their pagan gods in the sacred temple.
To top it all off, there was constant famine, poverty, and disease and the continued corruption of the religious and political leaders alike. Many people walked in darkness. They sought an individual, a return of the light of God, to bring the Israel glory and to be the compass for a nation in need. We all have those times when we struggle with the darkness of life whether it be in the form of illness, death, loss, loss of abilities, financial hardships, or just those life changes that sometimes take us by surprise. But this story reminds us that no matter how long we may journey in the darkness there are still slivers of God’s light to lead his people onward. The wisemen journeyed for years following the small fragments of light given out by a star.
God’s light is still present reaching out to us today. God’s light still shines even in the darkest of moments and times. We don’t need to walk around in the darkness alone, feeling our way through the hallways of life hoping not to trip and fall along the way. God offers us his light to guide our feet even in the darkest of moments. This is no distant promise. This promise is here now. The Magi did not follow the star to go on a trip, or to see new and foreign landscapes, rather they went to pay homage to a new king, a person whose star indicated that this child was to do something great. They came to have their eyes opened to the mysteries of God.
Marcel Proust, a 20th century French novelist, reminds us “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes”. Let us seek to have our eyes opened to the light of God in this world. Let us seek to illuminate the darkness that sometimes engulfs this world and our lives with the love of Christ. Let us be like the wisemen and seek out the greatness that was foretold by the star. Let us seek out Christ and his light by inviting his light into our lives by living into his love.
Let us seek to be as open to the light of God as the wisemen were and let us not be like Herod, so swallowed by the fears and darkness of the world that we seek to kill the light of the world before we even have time to explore its meaning. For it is promised in Isaiah, “For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you”. This is the light that can cut through the most painful fog of this life and ignite in each one of us a flame that cannot be extinguished, a hopefulness, a love, a joy that can bring new meaning to life and can change the world around us. So allow for that light to shine on in you and through you. Allow for that light to emanate through you, changing the lives of others, providing the light of the holy to all who come seeking a better world, a better way of life, something to drive away the darkness all around. Care for one another; listen to one another, support one another, and just live generally kind lives and slowly you will see God’s light alive in the world changing life for the better.
 Marcel Proust, 20th century French Novelist.
 Isaiah 60:2, RSV.
(Isaiah 60: 1-6 and Matthew 2:1-12)