Sermon: The Star, the Word and the Call.
In the first week of January I was sitting on a bench and looking at a snowcapped mountain. I was enjoying the view of happy children in the snow, young dare devils on snowboards, staggering beginners and the constant line of people going from the plains by lift to the top of the mountain.
I too had been up there. Or more correctly: I had been somewhat up there. Only half ways on the beginner’s slopes with my skies and my beginners luck. I had been up there without falling, but on the contrary made it down in one piece without any injuries and with an intact pride and joy.
But now I was sitting on a bench with two hurting swollen thumps, because another beginner ran straight into me on the very last run of the day. Myself and my thumps took the fall between the snow and the poles. So, I was sitting on the bench with my hurt fingers and pride, yet with beautiful views of snow, mountains, and the children’s joy.
An elderly gentleman sat next to me. We began to talk about this and that, but soon we talked about his long life and mine too. He was a very agile 88-year-old gentleman on skies, still a physician and a researcher. We talked about his life and mine too. About our choices and our callings.
He told me that while he was a freshman in college, he thought about becoming a pastor, and he was sent to a very small village in Alaska to preach and teach. The first Sunday 3 humans and 1 dog came to church. The second Sunday there were over 100 humans and 3 dogs, he told me. I thought: “Wow, what a success and maybe just a little exaggerated.” But I asked him why he did not stay in that calling after that success. He looked at me and said;” We all have to listen to our calling. My calling was a different place, but the star and the word I still follow!”
Today it is the 14th day of the new year 2018. We have only just begun. We have only just taken baby steps into the new year, but it is important that we follow the star, listen to the word and our calling.
We can lose sight and balance in life, we can get hurt or injured, but we must try to find a time and a place to sit on a bench to talk, listen and understand. To find time to see the star again, listen to the words and follow our calling.
Every New Year our wise Danish Queen Margrethe II give a speech to her people. We will listen to this speech later this afternoon, but for now I will share some of the wise words The Queen said: “Tonight, I will encourage you do something that you normally do not do. Something, that is outside our daily practical deeds. Try to do something that is not necessary, something not needed, something useless. It will not be the same for all of us. Some would rather take a walk in the woods or along the coast. Others would prefer to listen to music or watch television. I would prefer something in my hands: to sew or to draw, something with colors. - I think that it is important with experiences that speak to our senses; something that fertilizes our imagination and something that nourishes our thoughts and makes our world bigger. In fact, that is not useless at all.”
That is a very fine advice for this new year. To do something unnecessary and useless among all the useful practical things we always do! To find time to do something unnecessary, as it proves to be quite useful, beneficial, and healthy for us in the end. Something that speaks to our senses, fertilizes our imagination, and nourishes our thoughts to make this world bigger.
The star, the word, and the call. These makes our world bigger.
At Christmas time we heard about the shepherds and the wise men following the star. Today we hear about the beginning of the mission of Jesus, when he calls upon the disciples to follow him. With his calling they leave everything behind, all their practical usual doings and duties and follow him.
The star and Jesus called: Come and see. Come and experience. Come and live!
The Danish Queen encourages us to do something useless that might turn out to be quite useful and meaningful.
Such as skiing. Such as walking or biking along the coast. Such as reading a good book with you legs up and coffee on the pot. Such as playing a game. Such as visiting a museum. Such as talking. Such as listening.
These are experiences that speaks to our senses, fertilizes our imagination, and nourishes our thoughts and makes the world bigger, brighter, and better.
The useless might be useful. It stimulates us and brightens our daily lives.
The useless can be such as going to church!
To find your way through all your practical duties to sit on the bench, in the pews, maybe with swollen hurting thumps after a fall on the mountain of life, or maybe with bones tired and used by the last week, maybe with questions and doubts…. And then come in here to sit, to listen, to be and be nourished and fertilized.
To be met by the light of the star, the word of God and to feel that calling.
The lovely old hymn by Grundtvig: “Bright and glorious is the sky.” Is a wonderful Christmas hymn, but even more a hymn of this time of church too: the season of Epiphany. It is a hymn full of light, hope and faith.
We sing about the star that was shining, leading the Wise men, guiding them from a far to find Jesus in the manger.
We assume they were 3 well educated wise men. And the presumably begin the trip with no map to guide them, just a star. Many women might say: “Well that’s just like a man. Right here in scripture is evidence of the male refusal to bother with directions.”
Which reminds me of the old joke about what would have happened if it was three wise woman who had followed the star:
They would most certainly has asked for directions, they would have arrived on time, helped with the delivery of the baby, cleaned the stable, made dinner and brought some practical gifts.
But what would they have said when they left… men can only guess:
“Did you see the sandals Mary was wearing with that dress? Can you believe they let are those animals in the house? That baby does look anything like Joseph!”
Seriously – we all, male and female, need to follow the star, hear the word, and follow the call.
It is the 14th day of January 2018. We are gathered here in our beautiful church, where the light from the star has guided us here, where the word of God is spoken and heard, where we are called to follow, to come, to be, to be nourished, and to take good care of life and our neighbors. This life, that can be so difficult and yet so wonderful, so light and so heavy, so playful and so serious, so starry and so dark, so blessed or so cursed. This life as the poet Benny Andersen describes in his poem “A little dizzy”
I have clouds and airplanes in my eyes/ Church bells in the one ear
Traffic jam in the other/ My nose is filled with roses and elderflowers
I’m holding my grandchildren’s hands / trying to keep my balance
Because just under my feet/ There is a gigantic globe
Rotating at a furious pace/ Is it so strange/ That sometimes I get a little dizzy.”
WE might all feel a little dizzy at the view of a new year, new possibilities, and challenges.
Maybe one of the best useless unnecessary place to find firm standing, lift our gaze to the stars, nourished our imagination and fertilize our dreams and hopes for a bigger world, is right here in church. In here the sky is not the limit and yet we are shoulder by shoulder. Here is the hope of eternity and yet the very fragile hope for tomorrow too.
Let us celebrate New Year in the light of the star and with the wise words of the Queen and try to do some useless things that might turn out to be useful and meaningful and uplifting. As a former Danish bishop once wrote: “My beloved! Now the days are shorter, too short for everything we must do. But what do we need to do… Soon we will understand, that what truly was the joy of our lives, was not what we did and managed to do, but what came to us and stayed with us.” AMEN