FreerangeFriday: The Invitation to Follow…. the Star

by Lilly Lewin
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by Lilly Lewin

We are invited to Follow the Star in 2024

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’[b]”
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.   MATTHEW 2: 1-12 NIV

When you think about Following what things come to mind? What do you feel,think about, or see?
Is it a positive or a negative word for you?
The Dictionary defines FOLLOW:
transitive verb
1: to go, proceed, or come after
followed the guide
2a. to engage in as a calling or way of life : pursue
wheat-growing is generally followed here
b. to walk or proceed along
follow a path
3. a.: to be or act in accordance with
follow directions b. : to accept as authority : obey
followed his conscience

I think of :

Following the Leader…like in a line at school
Following Directions like in baking a cake or going to a new place.
Following the rules
Following people on social media
Following the sunset when I travel or as  I walk my dog.
Following the Star …like the Magi

The Magi, the Magicians, Astrologers, Wise Ones, followed a Star for two years in order to go worship a new King. They left everything familiar and all the comforts of home to go seek out this King and worship him.

They were on the road for a long time. They were in unfamiliar territory, most likely hostile to them and their beliefs, yet they CHOSE to keep going and to seek out this new king.

Since they knew that the Star was forecasting the King of the Jews, they sought him in the main city, in Jerusalem at the palace of King Herod. Yet Herod hasn’t heard anything about this new king. Herod hasn’t been paying attention to the heavens. To the signs. He’s been too busy being greedy and violent, seeking power and prestige. When this Entourage from the East arrives at his palace, his world is disrupted. He is scared. And it must have been a big group, not just three kings/magi because ALL of Jerusalem was frightened with him.

Are they being overrun again? Is this group of foreigners friend or foe? Is this new king a threat?

Herod asks his wise ones where a new king might be born. And they let him know that Bethlehem in Judea is the place the Messiah is to be born …so not just any old King! But the KING OF KINGS! The ONE WHO SAVES, the Deliverer they have waiting for for 400 years! The KING OF THE JEWS!

These Magi have followed a Star that may be forecasting the birth of THE KING!

But rather than celebrate and go along with this group of seekers, rather that FOLLOW, everyone stays put in the palace. Herod asks the Magi to send word back after they find this child but we don’t have record that ANYONE goes and FOLLOWS the STAR with the Magi.

This has always bothered me! Wasn’t anyone the least bit curious?

Wasn’t anyone interested?

Or were they just too busy with their regular lives to be bothered with an adventure?

Were they all just too comfortable in the palace to take a trip to Bethlehem?

Was it because these guys weren’t Jewish that they didn’t believe them? Or were they afraid of them because they were different? Or was it that they didn’t want to “pollute” themselves by traveling with them? Or being seen with them because they were Gentiles?

It was less than 7 miles to Bethlehem. 10 kilometers or so, so not a very big commitment to just go and see.

It makes me wonder how often I miss the invitation to FOLLOW when it doesn’t fit my schedule or when the invitation disrupts my comfort zone or comes from someone I don’t know well or looks different from me.

How often do I refuse the invitation to FOLLOW?
Do I receive and OPEN the invitation to go seek and worship Jesus? or like Herod and his wise ones do I stay stuck in the palace?

Jesus says “Follow me” over 20 times in the Gospels. Am I paying attention? Are we listening? Are we receiving that invitation ?

We are all invited to Follow the Star in the NEW YEAR.

What would make you Follow the Star in 2024?
What makes you want to stay at home? Talk to Jesus about the things that are keeping you stuck.

King Herod wasn’t curious. He wasn’t looking for the Messiah. What would help you get curious about FOLLOWING AGAIN?
The Scribes in Herod’s court could look up information, but they didn’t do anything with it. They didn’t take action. We who have known Jesus for a while  often have a lot of information about Him, we have memorized scripture, read lots of books, etc,  but how are we FOLLOWING ? How are we doing the things that Jesus did?

Think about the Wise Ones, the Magi.
They were looking for something, they were expecting something BIG!
They were trained to read the stars and they chose to PAY ATTENTION!
They were willing to take a risk, to take ACTION! Are we willing to RISK?

How do we want to be Followers in 2024? What is Jesus inviting us to in this next few weeks and months? 

WHAT IS THE INVITATION Jesus has for you and me? How is Jesus inviting you to FOLLOW him and his star in the new year?

Where are you today?

What would it take for you to follow the STAR?
Like the Wise Ones of Old, are you willing to go on an Adventure to find the King?
Even if no one else goes along?

Are you willing to leave your comfort zone to find King Jesus?
Are you willing to risk?

What is God’s STAR calling you to?

Are you willing to take your treasure to the King?
Even when things don’t look like you expect them to look, are you willing to follow?

What two things do you need to do less of in order to follow the Star in the New Year?
Less Netflix, less social media, less shopping, less anger, less comparison, less wasted time, less judgment of others, less prejudice, less shame, less busyness, less judgement, etc. What do you need LESS OF?
What two things do you need to do or do more of …in order to follow the Jesus this year?
More compassion, more serving the poor, more honesty, more prayer, more trust, more love, more creativity more rest/Sabbath, more________?
You might write these on paper stars or post it note stars and put them in your journal or somewhere you will see often to remind you.

Ask Jesus to help you follow Him in 2024…and invite some friends to journey with you! The Magi didn’t travel alone. They were in a group! So maybe you need a gather a new group and Follow together!

Tell Jesus where you are on your journey…He is not afraid of how you feel or where you have been. He knows we get stuck in the palace. He knows that we are exhausted by the world and all it’s pain and conflict. He knows that even 10 km feels like a long walk.
Know that Jesus just wants to be with you NOW and ALWAYS! You are not alone. You are GREATLY LOVED! You are invited to FOLLOW!
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James Tissot’s Journey of the Magi in the Minneapolis Art Museum

©lillylewin and

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