- The Washington Times - Monday, December 25, 2000

The following are excerpts from a sermon given yesterday by the Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy at New Bethel Baptist Church in the District:

The Gospel of Matthew [2:1-10] says that when the wise men saw the star, they rejoiced "with exceeding great joy." It shone over Bethlehem 2,000 years ago and brought hope to the world.

Today, it is your star. One scholar said stars are like ideals. "Like the seafaring man, we chose them as our guides and, following them, we shall reach our destiny." Our journey in life is like that of the three wise men on their way to Jerusalem in search of the Christ child.

The star they first saw brought them to Jerusalem and the palace of Herod, a likely place for a king to be born. But he was not there. And as they set out again, the star had disappeared. How many doubts crossed their minds after this long journey? Their hopes and aspirations had been lost, and they were crestfallen.

Then on the road to Bethlehem, Matthew tells us, the star appeared again. Their journey had not been in vain.

The star above Bethlehem has been symbolic of rejoicing ever since. It was a light in the dark and a release from bondage. The Greeks and Hebrews of that time had been conquered by the Romans, and the star would give them both a new vision.

Each of us is given a star, and I believe you will see your star again, even though in this life we lose sight of that which once fired our imaginations. We had been fired to give our best to God… .

For those who saw their star and then lost it, these wise men have a message. We lose our stars of hope in the hustle and bustle of daily life. We all have our prisons, dungeons of despair from life's mistakes.

Think of the star needed by those serving long sentences for mistakes they made, mistakes that haunt them with guilt and remorse. They need the star, like all people who walk in darkness and that "exceeding great joy."

I want you to see your star again. The star is for all who are locked in a prison house of sin, behind the bars of addiction, weakness, sorrow or sickness, the prison house of greed or broken relationships.

I want you all to see the star of hope again. God will do what no other power can do. Those who call yourself Democrats have walked in darkness since Nov. 7. I want you to see the star again. I want Al Gore to see the star again… .

Let's go back to the wise men. We all saw a star on the horizon of our lives at some point. Was it that bright time of graduating from school, earning that job, finding a goal in your career? Meeting your wife or husband? But we find this can be an unfriendly world. We walk in the night, just like the wise men when the star disappeared.

But they did three things. First, they didn't give up. We must learn to accept things that we cannot change. We can control all things only in our daydreams.

Martin Luther King Jr. was disappointed when, with a Ph.D. in systematic theology, he was not asked to be a distinguished professor. Look how disappointed Malcolm X was. His childhood dream was to be CEO of his own business, but he was caught up in drug addiction and prison.

They were disappointed the way you were when "you know what" didn't turn out as you had dreamed. The wise men found no Christ child at the palace, but they did not give up hope.

They also were able to find the star again, and why was that? They kept looking for it… . Martin Luther King had to begin in a little church in Montgomery, Ala., but he kept looking for God's star. Malcolm X looked for a higher purpose, and God lifted him up to higher ground.

Now, I'm not talking about anyone but you. You can find "exceeding great joy" in that star at 10 years old, 50 years old and 80 years old.

Finally, the wise men learned that, according to Scripture, Jesus was to be born not in Jerusalem, but in Bethlehem. So it is with us. We can search God's Word for our star. You may be surprised. Great joy might be found where we least expected it to be.

Next week: a sermon at a Maryland congregation

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