You may recall the story of two friends hunting in the woods. They were nervous because they got lost and darkness was fast approaching. Trying to reassure his friend, the first hunter said, "Don't worry, ole buddy! If we shoot in the air three times, stay where we are, somebody will find us." So that's exactly what they did. They shot in the air three times and waited. But no one came. After a half hour had passed, they tried again, shooting three times in the air. But again no one came to their aid. By then it was getting really dark. So they decided to try one last time. "This had better work," the first hunter declared. "We're down to our last three arrows!"
They had the right idea but the wrong tools! That can be a problem for us all: having the right idea but the wrong tools. The 'right idea' is being happy. The 'wrong tools' is thinking happiness means power, prestige, control like King Herod and the Temple priests of Jerusalem. Let's take a closer look: the very same star the wise men of the East observed was also shining brightly every night over the skies of Jerusalem. Yet Herod and his priests, scribes and bureaucrats - the whole lot of them - missed seeing the star. When the star was finally brought to their attention, they gave the task of following it to strangers from the East because they were too involved in their political power plays to pursue the matter personally.
Now look at the wise men. They observed that brilliant star in the night sky because they were raising their eyes above their daily concerns. We won't see stars in the night sky if we're buried in our work and never look skyward! Then when they saw the star, the wise men of the East did more than admire it. They saw it as something significant and worth pursuing. They followed that star's movement across the night sky; they traveled through strange and dangerous lands, not knowing where the star would take them. It ultimately took them to an obscure village in the countryside of Judah. There they found Jesus in his mother's arms and offered him their gifts!
For each of us there is a diamond-like star shining in the night sky, whether we attend to it or not - a star calling us to lift our eyes, to look beyond the busyness of human life and discover Jesus who invites us to walk with him in peace, love, compassion and forgiveness. These are the "right tools" to achieve genuine happiness.
So we pray: "Gracious and Loving God, help us lift our eyes to pay careful attention to our shining star. Give us the wisdom to follow it faithfully and perseveringly, for that star is not just in the night sky. It is in every human heart as well. That star is our sense of right and wrong - our conscience! To follow it faithfully is to discover Jesus. AMEN!"