Saturday, December 30, 2023

A Happy New Year

 For my New Year Eve's sermon I have immersed myself in the story in Matthew 2: 1-18. Within the narrative of the Magi visiting Jesus and Herod's violence I see vastly different responses. 

The first is glorious. Genuine worship. When these wise men, with obvious wealth and status, are able to enter Herod's palace, they ask: 'Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?' The king gathers all the chief priests and teachers of the law to give the right answer. Which they do. They know their scrolls and bring out Micah (5:2)  In Bethlehem in Judea.  I don’t know if they quoted the whole section, Matthew does: 'For you Bethlehem, out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people'.  And the king says 'Go and find him'.  

And they do in a weirdly wonderful story with which we we should never become over familiar. Weird because the first visitors were shepherds who fit exactly in the rural picture, but wealthy intelligentia who read the stars, travelling from far off lands, they enter the story too.  They just don't belong. They contrast in every way. Rank outsiders breaking in with their strange gifts for royalty, exploding what could be a cosy local Galilean story into an international one for all kinds of people.  Every kind of person.

That is the wonder. Their worship, their gifts.  Their not belongingness in the story which lays foundations for our not belongingness too. For Jesus the King will not just be king over Jews but Gentiles the world over.   CS Lewis once wrote: Look for Christ and you will find Him. And with him everything else.

It is the wise men's kneeling in worship, outsiders who are brought into the heart of the story that emphasizes the best response to Christmas.  That God has revealed who he is to US!  And as we go into a New Year this is the best response to share. That's why the Covenant Prayer will be said in church tomorrow - a personal commitment for 2024. 

A happy worshipping New Year!  


No comments: