Do you remember years ago when railroad crossings were marked with a sign that said, “Stop, Look and Listen?”  The purpose of that sign was safety.  It was intended to prevent motorists from driving into the path of a rapidly moving train.

Today is the feast of Christmas.  Today I borrow the slogan of the railroad  crossing not so much to emphasize safety as perspective.  What better time to pause and take a look at our life, before we move ahead into 2023.

So many of us are so immersed in the things of this earth that we never see or sense the wonder of life.  We need to stop what we are doing and look at the stars in the sky, or the stars in the eyes of a child, and see once again the glory of God.

It is a needless and pitiful tragedy for us to find all of life in the catalogue of common things.  How sad for anyone to go year after year and never sense the wonder of the universe filled with marvelous mysteries.  The poet Emerson once said, “If the stars should appear but one night every   thousand years, how people would cherish and preserve for generations the memory of that one night.  But that, of course, is not the case.  The stars shine every night and we get used to them, and somehow the magic gets lost.

The Wise Men of Christmas took the time and made the effort to renew their sense of wonder about life.  Wise men and women of all generations will do the same.  So, on this feast of Christmas we, too, need to renew our wonder.

Deep in the hearts of those Wise Men, as their camel caravan made its way home, was a fresh awareness of the nearness of God.  Appearances to the contrary, Herod wasn’t really in charge after all.  God had not forgotten the world.  He had come to live in it.  They had seen the Incarnation.  And God is still with us today.  Stop and think about that.

It is simply impossible to calculate the differences that have been made in human hearts and hopes in history.  The power behind all life is not an unfeeling force, but a God who really cares, knows each of us by name, and walks with us on the road of life.  The reality of that has done more to put hope and courage into people than any other concept the human mind has ever held.  We can’t imagine a world without God.

We still have our Caesars and our little Herods today.  Tyranny and corruption are not dead in our world or in ourselves, but things can never be the same because of Jesus.  There is a new faith and a new standard of values.  Today more than ever we need to remember that and we need the stability and confidence of that truth. 

No doubt, we need to make some changes in our lives, some mid-course corrections.  The Wise Men made some changes in theirs.  “They went back to their own country by another route.” 

Let’s stop and look at the road we are travelling.  Where will it take us?  Is that the place we really want to go?  It is not enough to have a good goal in mind.  We must also choose the road that will lead to that goal.

What do we want to do with our lives in 2023?  Where do we want to go this year?  Our intentions are probably good.  But let’s be sure we are travelling the road that will take us there.  Stop, Look and Listen!  Merry Christmas and may the Lord’s blessing come upon you and your family!