Connected Again - Matthew2:1-12
About five years ago, my family vacationed near the Grand Canyon.
We happened to be there at the same time as a national convention of astronomers.
Professionals and amateur enthusiasts invited the public to join them
as set up their telescopes near the edge of the Canyon and pointed the lenses toward the heavens.
Now true confessions: I have never been much for astronomy.
It entailed too much neck-craning late at night in the cold.
Plus, I never saw anything the handful of times I went out star gazing—
Perhaps a slightly bigger looking star through the telescope,
but never a meteor or anything I could recognize.
I found it was just more enjoyable to stay tucked cozily in my bed.
I nonetheless joined the crowd who came to peer through these telescopes to the stars beyond.
Led by infrared flashlights so that we would not cause light pollution,
my family made our way to a woman with a telescope.
“Would you like to see Mars?” she inquired.
We stepped up to the telescope, and there in plain sight was Mars with its reddish glow.
That’s cool, I thought. We looked at some stars and learned how many light years away they were.
But when I stepped up to a telescope pointed to Saturn, I gasped.
There it was: the gas giant, its rings clearly visible, just like I’d seen in books.
I immediately felt connected in a way I never had before.
It’s real! I thought, as if this were some unique inspiration.
For me, it was.
In that moment, I connected with Saturn and Mars and the stars.
No longer a far-off concept, a theoretical notion of heavenly bodies,
But true planets, true worlds, connected to my world and my experience.
The Magi were people who connected to the stars.
They were astrologers from the East, likely Persia, which is now modern-day Iran.
They traced the movements of celestial bodies for spiritual and scientific wisdom,
And Matthew says that they were guided by a star to the baby Jesus.
There they met within a tiny child the God of the universe.
Talk about feeling connected!
That is exactly what the incarnation is— being connected.
Jesus is the place where God takes on human flesh.
The place where the infinite becomes touchable.
God was not satisfied in being a far-off concept, a theoretical notion of divine benevolence
God wanted to connect to human experience and the human world.
Connection is something we especially long for right now.
The pandemic has separated us into our household pods, removed us from our communities.
While we are grateful for technologies like zoom and the good ol’ telephone,
we long for human touch and the sense of oneness that we can only get when we are in person.
In times of crisis people need to connect to something greater than themselves, so it’s no surprise
Google searches on prayer hit an all-time high during the first wave of the pandemic last spring.
People feel the need to connect not only to one another, but also to God.
As it turns out, this longing for connection is a perennial one, shared by people across the ages.
Human beings need community, a sense of purpose, a place in the world around them.
One way of making this connection has been through religion.
The word religion in fact comes from the same Latin root as the word ‘ligament.’
The root is Ligare, which means to connect.
Religion, Re + ligare means “to connect again.”
Religion at its root is designed to connect us once again to our core;
It is meant to connect us to God, to our neighbors, and to the world around us.
I think this is important to note at a time when many of our family and friends identify
As ‘spiritual but not religious.’
At a time when religion has become identified with rote practices and dogma,
I think it is time to reclaim the word ‘religion’ for its original meaning,
And to begin to articulate the practices and insights that make connections for us.
How does your practice of Christianity connect you to others? To yourself and God?
Is there a specific faith practice that connects you to God and to the world around you?
Are there scriptures or hymns or places that make you feel connected,
particular activities that bring you into God’s presence?
I was connected again through the silent majesty of Saturn.
What is it for you?
The point of our Christian religion, revealed in the incarnation
Is that we are connected again by a baby born 2000 years ago
In Jesus, the original connection, severed by sin and separation, has been brought back and healed.
As re-connected people, we join Christ in the spiritual work
to unite that which has been wrenched apart and to heal our world.
Which brings me back to the astronomers in the Grand Canyon.
Their passion for their art showed me a world that I never connected with
They made a connection between their world and mine.
God did the same thing in the most profound way in Jesus.
In becoming human, God connected in the most intimate way with our lives.
God allowed us to touch and hold God.
This immanent God-among-us, continues to show up today
In our community of St Matthew
In our prayer and our relationships
In our partners in ministry who make a difference in lives nearby and around the world
We are called to be like the astronomers at the Grand Canyon
Passionate enough to share the connections we have made with others
Committed enough to take the time to show beginners the marvels of faith
Courageous enough to make a connection between our world and someone else’s.
Because when it gets right down to it, that’s what God did for us in Jesus.
In Jesus, God connected us again—to ourselves, each other, to the world, and to God.