Monday, December 28, 2015

Looking Forward to January 3, 2016 -- Sunday Closest to Epiphany

This being the first Sunday of January we will be celebrating the Sacrament of Communion.

The famed (in song at least) 12 Days of Christmas technically refer to the Christmas season of the Christian Year. This season begins on December 25 (December 24 being the last day of Advent) and continues until January 5th, the day before the Feast of Epiphany, which celebrates the visit of the Magi as told in Matthew's Gospel. Theoretically worship to celebrate Epiphany should happen on January 6th. Pragmatically, many of us mark the occasion on the Sunday immediately preceding the actual date.

The Epiphany story is told in the 2nd chapter of Matthew, and actually has two parts. Part one, the part we usually tell, is the magi traveling and visiting with their gifts. Part two, which is often skipped over because it is much less celebratory, tells of Herod's response to hearing that a child has been born "King of the Jews". We will read the whole story (which coincidentally is also the whole chapter). So our reading this week is Matthew 2:1-23.

The sermon title is Adoration and Murder, The Refugee Messiah

Early Thoughts: Did they know what the result of their visit would be? When the Magi did what probably seemed obvious to them, and asked the current King of the Jews where the baby was did they know how murderous his response would be?

I hope not. Because if they did they were being incredibly negligent.

The fact remains that Herod's response IS murderous. The story is clear that in the space of a few sentences the child goes from being lauded by foreign visitors to running for his life. The Messiah is a refugee, who never returns to live in his birthplace.

Now to be honest, it is plausible that the whole story is theology that Matthew is attempting to turn into history. But still why does it ring so true? Certainly Matthew portrays Herod acting in a way that, based on his reputation, he likely would have done. Certainly tyrannical rulers tend to look unkindly on those who might replace them. And we know full well that refugees are not a new thing. When the world fails to be what it could be, when people try to win the day through death and murder, there are those who flee for their lives.

What does it mean for us to remember that Jesus, Emmanuel, the Messiah was also a refugee?

O Come let us Adore him?

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