Summary: Facing a new year we can learn from how the Magi visited Jesus
It is disheartening when someone you’ve respected in their chosen field ends up being nothing more than a lost soul. John Antrobus, a playwright and author, shared a Christmas he spent with Peter Sellers in a December 27 article. He got a call in 1977 inviting him to come over Christmas Day. During their exchange Peter tells John, "It’s more than that [you coming over], I don’t know how to enjoy Christmas. I don’t even know how to get through Christmas, and I thought you might have some ideas." During the course of the day they end up at a farmer’s house having a hot toddy and visiting with the farmer, his wife and 8-year-old daughter.
This young girl "showed Peter the Christmas crib she had made, containing the Baby Jesus." When pressed to leave by his wife, Peter says:
"’No,’ said Peter. ’Not without Baby Jesus.’
’You could stay here with Baby Jesus until the Twelfth Day of Christmas,’ said the little girl. ’That’s when it all finishes.’
’I’d like that,’ said Peter. ’I’d like to stay here forever, with Baby Jesus."
The rest of the day went just as strange including a near altercation at a restaurant in Brighton. Eating and talking with another couple at the table Antrobus remembers:
"Later, after dinner, we all sang carols round the crib. The lights were lowered and candles produced to make a poignant scene of a Christmas Truce in the Great War of Peter Sellers’s emotions.
All was mellow. All was love. ’The hopes and fears of all our years Are met in Thee tonight.’ Those lines we sang sweetly from O Little Town Of Bethlehem summed up a feeling of Oneness that this odd assortment of people, gathered together around a cardboard crib, could not otherwise express.
’Excuse me,’ said Peter. His eyes were glistening. Did I detect tears? That was the last we saw of him. Peter, we discovered, had hired a taxi to take him back to London on his own. He’d had enough.
Peter Sellers somehow, at that table with a home-made crib and Baby Jesus, was touched by the presence of God. And his response was to run away. It is sad because Peter isn’t alone.
As this Christmas season draws to a close with Epiphany are brought full circle to those who embrace the one born "King of the Jews" and those, like Herod, who was "troubled" by the news and tried to get rid of it. Herod’s problem, like Peter Sellers, was that he was so egocentric that he wanted nothing to do with anything that threatened himself as the center of the universe.
What do these visitors do that others don’t? First of all they welcome Jesus for who he is. The hymn We Three Kings is wonderful how it links the gifts with Jesus’ destiny as God, and King and Sacrifice. They didn’t know that the events of the next 30 some years would make it possible for them to have eternal life.
Herod and others, like Sellers, don’t do this. Herod, paranoia in overdrive, has all infants in the area of Bethlehem murdered. Sellers is willing to sing to a baby but runs away when the thought of Him being something more starts to intrude in his life.
Secondly, these wise men worship Jesus. There is no wish to stir up controversy in Israel. They went to Jerusalem because Kings are born in royal palaces and the homes of the current king. Little did they know God had taken things a different direction.
Worshipping Jesus means we are worshipping the one who is Lord of Lord and Kings of Kings. Have you ever met someone who the Christmas Jesus, but had no use for the Lord Jesus? I’ve met many. They keep any talk of Christ being Lord and Savior at arm’s reach. They run from it. They did in their heels and hold onto their selfish, thinking, ideas, and feelings as if they were equal to the Word of God as revealed in Scripture and Jesus himself.
Hope that lasts comes when Jesus controls us. It doesn’t come from within us but from the Holy Spirit’s moving through us and Jesus setting himself up in our lives as Lord and Master.
This day, those of you who are baptized are invited to come to our Lord’s table. It is here for those who have, like the wise men, decided Jesus is more than a baby and have allowed Him to become the Lord of their lives.
If you haven’t done that today may be the day you sense God’s call to come and believe. I urge you to say yes to God’s offer of hope and eternal life. Don’t run away like Peter Sellers. Don’t seek to destroy the only one who can save you, like Herod but come and worship as those wise men did 2000+ years ago. Let us pray.