Only Matthew tells the story of the magi—the “three kings”—who journeyed to worship baby Jesus. Of course, we don’t know if there were three (we assume so because of the three gifts). And they weren’t really “kings” (but they were apparently wealthy, judging by the swag they offered to the Holy Family.) They were “magi”— astrologers from modern-day Iran—who believed the stars guided all destiny.
The Old Testament condemns astrology as idolatry…but this was another example of incredible grace; that God was willing to meet these sincere pagan seekers on their own terms. He gave them their star; a star that would point to the One who would guide their destiny…and the destiny of every human being. All they need do was follow that miraculous star and it led them, ultimately, to the place where Jesus could be found and worshipped. (Sorry, again, to burst your nativity bubble; it wasn’t at the manger, but at their “home” in Bethlehem…and Jesus was a toddler at the time…about my granddaughter Cici’s age!)
Alas, I have no star to point you to. But I DO have some important directions. If you don’t pay attention to what I’m about to write, you may well get lost tomorrow morning. Then, you will be irritated at me and disappointed that you missed out on something special. SO…consider these next few paragraphs YOUR guiding star to help you know where….and when…to show up tomorrow morning and join the rest of your Chapel Hill family as we kick off 2023.
TOMORROW…NEW YEAR’S DAY…we WILL celebrate with one BIG service only at 10:00. (Repeat after me: New Year’s Day, one service only, 10:00 a.m.). This will be our annual renewal of baptismal vows. I’m going to preach on, “How to Raise a Teenager”…based on the only story we have about Jesus in his teens. And then, we will share in one of our most precious annual traditions: a renewal of our baptismal vows. Can you think of a better way to start the New Year? So…once again…all together now: “New Year’s Day, 10:00 a.m., one service only!”
One last piece of important guidance from your “star substitute:” As you know, our giving for 2022 has lagged considerably…with a projected shortfall of about $500,000 for our fiscal year (ending June 30.) A few weeks ago, we shared that fact with you…and asked you to prayerfully consider what your giving “next step” might be: a first-time gift? Scheduling a regular monthly gift? (HUGELY helpful) Tithing for the first time? An extraordinary, above-and-beyond gift?
November was very encouraging. We closed about $148,000 of that $500,000 gap. But we have a long way to go. December, traditionally our biggest giving month, needs to be REALLY strong! Would you please consider a generous, year-end gift to your Sweetheart Church? We need everyone’s partnership…and are grateful for every gift, large and small.
OK…that wasn’t exactly a star gleaming in the Stygian darkness. But I hope these few directions from your beloved Senior Pastor will guide you as we wrap up 2022 and launch into another New Year. ONE MORE TIME, together now! “New Year’s Day, ONE service only, 10:00 am, in person and live-streamed,” And don’t forget your year-end gift to Chapel Hill.
OK…this is your shining star signing off! See you tomorrow!