Summary: This finishes up our series by showing how Christmas changes people. In this case that the Magi left Bethelhem changed men.
Here we are it’s Christmas Eve, which brings us to the end of our A Christmas Carol Series at Cornerstone.
Through the past four weeks we’ve been using Dickens’ most famous story as a frame work for the Christmas story. If you aren’t familiar with A Christmas Carol, it is divided up into five chapters which Dickens calls Staves.
And we’ve looked at how Christmas has impacted our past, our present and our future. If you missed those you can simply go to our website, Cornerstonehfx.ca.
And here we are at Stave Five, the final chapter of the book. It is here that Scrooge makes good on his promise to become a changed man.
He begins Christmas Day by making a large donation to the charity he rejected the day before. He then arranges for a large turkey to be sent to the Cratchit family for Christmas dinner and spends the afternoon with his nephew Fred and his family.
The next day he gives his clerk, Bob Cratchit, an increase in pay and begins to become a father figure to Tiny Tim.
The story ends with Scrooge treating everyone with kindness, generosity and compassion, and embodying the spirit of Christmas.
This evening I would like to suggest that those who are open to the miracle of Christmas always leave different then when they arrived.
One of my favourite parts of the Christmas story is the story of the Magi.
Really, what symbolizes Christmas more than the picture of the Magi kneeling in adoration before the new born messiah? Across the desert sand they had come, mile after mile following but a promise of a distant start. I wonder if as they packed their camels in Persia to follow a distant star to an unknown destination if their family friends and neighbors thought of them as wise men?
And yet the Magi of the East made their pilgrimage across the sea of sand to the little town of Bethlehem to worship at the cradle of Christ.
We know very little about the Magi, but we do know that they were from the country of Persia which is now Iran.
Now we don’t know why the sign came to these men, maybe it was there for everyone but only these few choose to follow.
Regardless of the reason, it was the Magi who followed the star to visit the Christ child, and maybe it was simply to signify that Christianity would ultimately be for everyone.
Now we might not have a lot of factual information, but a lack of facts has never stood in the way of anyone and so what facts can’t tell us we learn from tradition. Early tradition told us that there were 12 in this group of wise men, but of course our contemporary belief is that there were only 3. And tradition did what political aspiration couldn’t do and it turned the Magi into kings.
And we still create tradition, if you go to many churches this time of year you will hear that the Magi never saw the new born Christ, instead we are told that they arrived two years after Jesus was born. The rational? They refer to where the Bible says that they went to the house where the baby was but while the Bible says Jesus was born in a stable it doesn’t say that he stayed in the stable.
They talk about how it would have taken the magi two years to make the trip, although the same trip was made on Camels in recent years in only 3 months.
And if God could put a star in the sky to guide the wise men, he could have put it there so they arrived on time. And finally, the proponents of this new tradition point to the fact that Herod ordered the death of all male children under the age of 2. So what? The man was a homicidal maniac.
I want to know why Mary and Joseph and Jesus would have hung around Bethlehem for two years after the census was finished?
That was free.
The entire trip was summed up by Matthew when he wrote in Matthew 2:10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! I hope this Christmas season has been a time of joy for you as you celebrated the birth of Jesus.
Their story finishes with Matthew 2:12 NKJV Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.
Now we all know what Matthew was saying here, he was telling us that because they had been warned that Herod would kill the Christ child that took an alternate route home, one that would bypass Jerusalem. But that doesn’t answer the question that burns deep within the soul of every preacher, and that is, “Will it Preach?”