As we well know – the story did not end in Bethlehem. The child would grow and become strong, filled with wisdom – the favor of God upon him. The story that began in a stable, would continue. It would continue as the now-grown man spread good news throughout the region; even in the most unexpected places. People flocking to hear Him, they would return to their homes, glorifying and praising God, forever changed by the experience. It would continue on a cross on a hill and in a borrowed tomb, found empty. It would continue as the man’s closest friends—who themselves had been changed by their experience—brought the story of the good news to people in all parts of the world, thriving in the most unexpected places, changing people’s lives forever. The story continues still, with no ending in the foreseeable future. What’s this tell us? It tells us that God isn’t done—not by a longshot. It tells us that God is still speaking; that God is still very much active in the world—still writing the Christmas story. And the good news? We can all be part of it. But—will we? Have we allowed Christmas to change us?

First Scripture Reading: Isaiah 60:1-6—Arise Your Light Has Come

Arise, shine; for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth,
    and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
    and his glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Lift up your eyes and look around;
    they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from far away,
    and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
    your heart shall thrill and rejoice,
because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you,
    the wealth of the nations shall come to you.

A multitude of camels shall cover you,
    the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
    all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
    and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 2:1-12—The Visit of the Magi

1 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men] from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when  the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.