Monday, January 1, 2024

another response

I have woken up to sunshine as the New Year opens, so welcome after days of gloom. But whatever the weather for you may today begin a significantly good year with God. I preached yesterday on the good news as wise men worshipped because they had found Christ.  But I also pushed into the story to find another very different response - a religious response.

It is striking how summonsed by Herod on a three line whip - all the chief priests and teachers - to answer the question about where this child born to be king of the Jews is to be found, they get the right answer. Did they know the prophecies about the coming of the Messiah? YES.  Could they see Jupiter and Saturn or the comet or whatever was bright in the sky?  Probably YES. Do they have authority so that the King orders action on their words? YES.   Everything is lined up on paper. They  really know their stuff.  They know that the outcome of all the Old |Testament yearnings focusses on the coming Messiah.

Yet when the Magi set off they don’t. They can look up the facts, get them right, but not move a muscle in response. They stay in Jerusalem as these searchers move on.  This is the utter tragedy about knowing some facts about the Christ but rejecting any possibility of meeting him. They could pass examinations on Scriptural interpretations but they don’t want any spiritual experience. 

The evangelist David Watson used to say that the number one reason why people reject Christianity is because they don’t want to change.  Bluntly, they feel if you should take Jesus seriously nothing will be the same again. They know about him but they don't want to know him personally. 

I saw a cartoon two weeks ago.  It was a science class and the teacher had all these squiggles on the blackboard.  And he was saying :  Along with antimatter and dark matter we’ve recently discovered doesn’t matter which appears to have no effects on the universe at all.         

The behaviour of these religious leaders is a reminder that religious people can behave as though the coming of Christ has no effects on the universe at all.  Certainly not upon them!  What a challenge to those of us who come to church and over the years have heard so much about God yet keep him at arm's length. Please, let's be more open to him in our lives and community in 2024.

And there is one other more obvious response in the story......

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