What Are You Following?
by Kathye Hamm
On Epiphany Sunday, January 6, many of us celebrated the coming of the Magi to pay homage, to worship, Jesus. They left their homes and traveled a great distance, following the light of a star that hovered over the home of Jesus and his family. As I was preparing to preach on Sunday I started thinking about the things that draw me to take one path or another – the stars in my life, as it were.
If I am honest with myself, not infrequently the things that draw me are not the Christ Child, but are other demands on my attention, time, and resources. Sometimes it is the draw of the new and shiny technology or thing that one ‘must have to be happy!’; sometimes it can be anxiety or worry; sometimes it has been grief or anger or fear that has led me to take one path or another.
Some of my sabbatical work was centered on Emotional Intelligence (EQ) (in short, being aware of one’s own emotions, and one’s own ‘hooks and triggers’ to better react and respond to people and situations). As I reflected on the list of the stars that lead me down the paths I listed above, I’m struck that in those moments of following those paths I am not working from my ‘best self’ (as the saying goes – the ‘me’ that is aware of how I am being hooked by my emotions – exactly the response the ad execs are hoping for!
Maybe one way for us to have some awareness is to check the source of that star that we are following. Is it a bright, shiny thing that offers empty promises of happiness and fulfillment? Is it the lure of righteous indignation and being right at any cost? Is it the empty assurance of my own comfort at the expense of others? Perhaps on our various paths, we should take a moment to look at the Star we are following and wonder over what it is hovering. If it does not lead us down a way that leads to the Christ Child – to God incarnate, Emanuel – we can recalibrate and find that star and follow it. Through prayer, community, service and the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, God promises to show up and to continue to guide and lead us through the work of the Holy Spirit.
May your stars lead to the Child, born of Mary, the Beloved of God, who is the Christ.
Blessings in this Season of Light!
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