Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Looking Forward to January 2, 2011 -- Sunday Before Epiphany

This week we will celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism

The Scripture Reading will be Matthew 2:1-23

The Sermon title is A Story of Visitors

Early Thoughts: What happens when a baby is born?  Well lots of things of course.  But one thing is that people want to come and visit and give gifts.  In essence that is the root of the story this week, well if we overly simplify matters.

One of Matthew's goals in his Gospel is to show that Jesus, while being particularly Jewish (the new Moses in fact), is also the light to the nations.  And so he has Wise Gentiles come to pay homage to the child "Born to be King".  The gifts they bring are symbolic of royalty, priestliness, and a foretelling of death.  That is half the story.

The other half is one we often forget to tell.  If Jesus is born to be King, if Jesus is Lord, then Herod has an issue (or Caesar has an issue).  Herod schemes to destroy the child.  And so the family flees.  But Herod, now knowing where the family is, proceeds to order the slaughter of every young male child in the area.  There is no record of that happening (although it would fit with Herod's personality).  In fact there is little reason to think that any of Matthew chapter 2 is history remembered.  So if it might not have happenend, why does Matthew tell the story?

Matthew tells the story as part of his way of showing that the Jewish Jesus is light to the nations.  Matthew also tells the story to show how being a person who follows Jesus makes a statement about the other power-players in the world. As people who follow The Way we proclaim that in Jesus, crucified and risen, we too find the one who is light tot he nations.  We also proclaim that the powers of the world are not the real powers.

This is a story that starts in the children's pageant and ends in the darkness of power politics.  The life of faith calls us to stay in both places, openly and unafraid.

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