Summary: Are we among the wise of this generation? What does it mean to be a person who walks in Kingdom-wisdom? Perhaps some sages from the first Christmas can shed some light upon our paths as we walk into a new year.
Opener: Here we find ourselves in the house of the Lord the day after Christmas!? How do we feel about that?? Traditionally, Boxing day is this:
The holiday’s roots can be traced to Britain, where Boxing Day is also known as St. Stephen’s Day. Reduced to the simplest essence, its origins are found in a long-ago practice of giving cash or durable goods to those of the lower classes. Gifts among equals were exchanged on or before Christmas Day, but beneficences to those less fortunate were bestowed the day after. (snopes.com)
The spirit of generosity surrounding this day is best exemplified by the fact that December 26 is also St. Stephen’s Day. St. Stephen was one of the seven original deacons in the Christian Church. He was stoned to death by an angry mob for his devoted piety and faith in Christ. As he expired in a slow and painful death, St. Stephen uttered a powerful prayer in which he begged God to forgive his persecutors. Many consider him to be the first martyr. (citysoup.ca)
Today’s text takes us to a time after the birth of Jesus….this story is thought to take place some time (1 week or 1 month) after Jesus is born….so it seems fitting that we explore this text after Christmas…what’s the state of our hearts today?
Exhausted? Inspired? Relieved? Fulfilled? Lonely? Disappointed?
As we gather together on the last Sunday of 2004, let’s take some time to reflect on our spiritual journeys…are we (like the Wisemen) moving closer to Christ?
WHAT WAS ADVENT LIKE FOR YOU? It’s the beginning of a new season. It’s not about the day, it’s the 4 weeks of waiting and wondering…looking for signs and wonders. Were there any in your lives over the past 4 weeks?
Well…Christmas is done…in terms of the day…but let us, like the wisemen, keep moving towards Christ…encountering him and allowing him to change, challenge and transform our lives!
Here’s what we can learn from the sages who celebrated the first Christmas.
1) Wise People ask questions (v. 2)
“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east[b] and have come to worship him.”
How do wise people get wise? From asking questions…
What are we seeking after these days? Riches? Answers to life’s questions? A certain relationship? The easy life?
Are you the kind of person that has all the answers? Or are you the kind of person who’s open to seeking the answers?
I have met people who have their Christian lives so neat and tidy that there is no mystery or room for the “other-ness” of God. These were men who were seeking the truth and they were seeking this miracle that had happened in Bethlehem…but they might have been unlikely role-models of the “neat & tidy” Christian life…
Magi in Jesus’ day were not "wise men". They were not models of religious piety. They were magicians, astronomers, star-gazers, pseudo-scientists, fortune-tellers, horoscope fanatics; but Matthew makes them the heroes in his first story following the Savior’s birth. The Magi should not be there. They are heretics. They don’t worship the right God. They are the wrong race, the wrong denomination, the wrong religion. They don’t know how to worship rightly. (Brian Stoffregen, Marysville, CA from Crossmarks.com)
So the challenge for us in light of this idea of seeking is to search our own hearts and reflect on the JESUS ISSUE in our own hearts? Is the person of Jesus making your heart seek after new things these days? Or are you satisfied in your understanding? The beauty of the Christian life is that we are “transformed from glory to glory”…when we’re talking about an infinite God we’re talking about an infinite amount of knowledge!
12Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. 14But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with everincreasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
That’s why you can read the Bible over and over again and never get tired of it…never run out of things to learn…
So, we’re called to be seekers….we’re called to ask questions….why don’t more people ask questions in the church? As we look at the next point, perhaps therein lies the answer…