The Rev. Jon Roberts
Grace Episcopal Church
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, 2 “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet:
6 ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.’” 7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; 8 and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; 11 and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
The Nativity of Our Lord by Dona Gelsinger c.2010
He shall have pity on the lowly and poor; He shall preserve the lives of the needy. The compassion and preservation of life are the coordinates of God's will.
All across the world a new game has spread. It's called "Geocaching." Anyone with a cell phone that has a Global Positioning System or "GPS", can play along. It began May 3rd, in the year 2000 as President Clinton gave official approval to "hit the blue button in the sky" unlocking the Selective Availability satellite system employed by the US Dept. of Defense. Prior to, his presidential predecessor, insured that the US owned the sky, so to speak. There were already eighteen satellites at the time orbiting the Earth and at the stroke of twelve, global positioning coordinates were immediately available. Anyone with a GPS could now find things, help others, and explore areas with more accuracy.
Over ten years have passed. There are now more than twenty-five satellites. We can now sit at our computer, or carry a hand held smart phone to zero in on specific coordinates. We can even get a satellite image of our neighbor's back yard, if we want. Geocaching uses such technology and there are avid enthusiasts out there. It began when Dave Ulmer, a computer consultant, decided to take a black bucket, put various prizes inside, such as videos, books, etc., and hid it in the woods near his hometown of Beavercreek, Oregon. With the coordinates released, people went to find. Lo and behold, dozens of people emailed him back that they discovered it, using their GPS devices.
The fun and excitement spread. Soon, people in just about every country posted the coordinates of their hidden prizes for others to find. The prize was finding something hidden. Hence the name "cache." What a treasure it was to lock in and discover something new. When you find the treasure, you may take something out, but always the rule is to leave something of greater. When you find the treasure, you write back to the one who did the hiding, leaving a message about its difficulty and the surprise of its contents.
Always, you sign off, "TFTC" which stands for "Thanks For The Cache." Imagine taking out your device presently and typing in the coordinates to a place not far away from that first sighting in Beavercreek. It takes you to a small town, called "Needy." Needy, Oregon, a place named after the poverty stricken community which had been caught in a war between pioneers and Indians. A war that took its toll. The grief and struggle of famine and massacre in those parts, in the middle of the nineteen century, hardly registers into the successful prodigy of American history. No one won. Everyone lost. Something was taken out but nothing put back in.
Times have remained tough to present day. Zoom in. Look down and meet Rita Coleman. She is a single mother with a seven-year old. She was homeless for three years while trying to find work. Without the aid of a state relief, giving her $14 a day in which to live, she doesn't know how she would have survived. People like her are all around us. God has sent the coordinates. The words, "Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten; Nor the hope of the poor be taken away" echo in our daily office and they rise up before us on the Epiphany where we follow the star in the East. Christ is revealed in the world, not hidden. Christ searches out the poor and the needy. He finds great joy in doing so, and perhaps we should share in his divine will. Let us pray that we find those less fortunate. Let us support charities and raise funds to provide means. We are the light to enlighten the gentiles and we are to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to people who live in the dark and are isolated from hope.
Here is the Epiphany this eve: Let us have pity on the lowly and poor; Let us preserve the lives of the needy. The compassion and preservation of life should be our earthly pursuits because they are the coordinates of God's will. Once you find someone in need put something of greater value back into them. Put within them the good name of Jesus. Tell them that He will guide and direct. He will keep and preserve. Say a prayer back to God, letting Him know what you found. Write the following on your message when you find such treasure: "TFTC", Thanks for the Cache.
"TFTC", Thanks for the Christ.
 Matthew 2:1-12