Summary: A look at the JOURNEY of the Wise Men. The gifts wait till Epiphany
Bob Chooljain built a nativity scene for their yard more than 30 years ago. "I did it when my boys were younger," he said. "It’s something we kind of did together." Eight years ago one of the Wise Men were stolen and December 8th it was Jesus who was kidnapped. The strange thing is that in the place of the Christ child was left an empty beer can. The good news is that the figure was returned on the 12th. But before you get too happy, someone also stole the baby Jesus from the nativity set from the Southern Australia Brewing Co. in Adelaide Australia. The brewery is offering a six case reward for Jesus’ safe return.
all accessed December 14, 2006
What is worse than stealing Jesus from his Christmas setting is ignoring Him and going about life as if He doesn’t matter. Unfortunately, this is too often the case with the culture in which we live. I caught part of a show Christmas Unwrapped that was on the History Channel in passing it said that was that in the U.S. by the mid-1800’s Christmas had already become a commercial success. Did you know that it wasn’t a federal holiday till 1870?
So here, we are with seven days left to do Christmas shopping talking about the astronomers from the East who came to the child Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. We will revisit them again a couple of weeks but for now, I want us to focus on how they offer us a vision for living our lives today. Especially as opposed to another person who was concerned about a coming King. "Herod the Great" put to death a wife and at least two sons because he felt they threatened his reign. Supposedly it was Augustus who joked it was preferable to be Herod’s pig (hus) than his son (huios). This is especially insulting since Herod was Jewish.
Herod knew Messiah would bring chaos to his little world. It would unstablize the situation with Rome. It would remove him as King of the Jews. And so Herod tries to murder this baby.
The Magi come to Jerusalem because that is where the King is. And Kings are born royalty. You find in the movie The Nativity Story an interesting dinner scene with the Magi and Herod. The three visitors seem to become more and more aware that something isn’t right with Herod.
Other than the assumption that the baby would be Herod’s son, the magi have little concept of what, who or how God’s Messiah was to come. They simply knew a significant King was being born and wanted to meet him. And to do this they were willing to travel to find the one born "King of the Jews". In fact, I believe the entire world is seeking Jesus, either to destroy Him or to worship Him.
Between today and Epiphany, which is the Christian Church’s celebration of the coming of the magi there are 20 days, (tomorrow up to and including January 6). I want to invite you to join me on a quest for Jesus during this time. I want to have you commit to reading God’s word and to seeking God in prayer each day. And to help I’ve included an insert for you. You’ll find that each day has a little circle next to it and a bible verse or section next to it. They revolve around themes like following, seeking and giving. Turn the insert over and you’ll find a line for each of the days with a question for thought and a place to jot a note.
You may need more room. You may not write something every day. You may incorporate the question or response into your regular journaling. There isn’t a correct way to do it, it just is important for our spiritual growth to do it. You’ll also find a sample prayer at the bottom of that back page. The intent of it is for us to put ourselves in a place where our worship and seeking after Jesus is a daily choice we make.
January 7th we will celebrate communion in worship and I want to give those who like the chance to bring to the congregation one experience that they may have had following Jesus. We’ll do that in place of where we usually have people announce prayer concerns.
Here is what I believe will happen if we do this. First, our personal contact with Jesus will become deeper. You can’t seek Jesus and not find Him. You can’t seek Jesus and not be confronted with God’s Love and call to become more like Him, it just doesn’t happen. I believe we will also find a personal connection with Christmas that has the power to move us beyond the "Bah! Humbug!" of the season and into the "Joy to the World" attitude. I don’t think it will take away every bit of depression or sadness we may feel but I believe that Jesus has the ability and power to take us through whatever it is that comes against us.