Reflections on the Christian journey based on the lectionary gospel texts
Thursday, 9 January 2020
Epiphany Psalm 72v1-13 Mathew 2v1-12, Journeying
The wise men were rich. They were not your average joe.They had money to travel, time to take off work.
But the most important thing about the them was that they could read the signs.
And the signs for them were written in the stars.
And they followed the signs. And the signs told them of the birth of the Jewish Messiah. And they knew this was very important. This star. These prophesies. From a different religion.
They followed the star. They could be bothered.
The day before Yesterday the US bombed the country they came from. Persia. Iran.
On their journey they got lost. So they knew they were looking for a King so they went to the palace. Today where would we go if we were looking for a King, a leader? Would we go to Buckingham Palace? Would we go to the House of Commons? Would we go to the Palace at Westminster? To look for a religious leader prophesied centuries ago, a baby born to be a religious game changer?
Herod was nasty, oppressive and he had real power unlike our royalty now. The equivalent today would not be the queen but the 1% who could run over 100,000 monarchies on their own, who own more than the rest of the 99% put together and are now in power. They would be the ones the kings would go to. To the prime minister. But they may not find him, he may be in Mustique, and he like Herod wouldn't know where the baby King would be, because he is not religious. And has no interest in prophesies in the Old Testament or astrology. Perhaps he should. It may help him in the present and in the future.
So Herod turns the wise men away. But he says, tell me when you find the King. Why did he say this? Because he was jealous and wanted no rivals. In fact to make sure he has no rivals he then goes on to kill all the babies under two in Judea. Jealousy is a very destructive emotion, we all are sometimes jealous, but it always drives us to do the wrong things unless we face it, accept its message and start putting our own life in order instead of sublimating our emotions and taking out our shadow side on innocents.
The wise men continue their journey find the baby and offer their gifts. Gifts that cost them, gifts that cost them time and energy, these Iranians coming to worship a Jewish baby Messiah. Gold for a King, incense for a priest and symbolic of prayers being offered up, and myrrh for his burial. It's all there.
They go home a different route warned of Herod in a dream, they didn't have the Internet then, and Jesus family flee into Egypt, as refugees to escape Herod's jealousy. How many people in the world today are similarly fleeing violent regimes? With young children, to keep them safe?
This year we will all be on journeys. These journeys will be both journeys we have chosen to make and some forced upon us. Journeys abroad, journeys in our careers or out of them, journeys in relationships as parents, journeys as Christians.
But what about signs? Are we reading the signs?
Are we reading the sacred texts?
Where is God directing us this year and what signs are we following?
How will we get there? Who will we go with us? Some people will have definitely thought the wise men were crazy. Some people will think you are crazy in the decisions you make.
What will we take with us? Things appropriate to our journey or crazy things that we are going to give to God? What are we going to give to God this year?
And how will we engage with the people we meet? Will we make mistakes like the wise men and engage with powerful people ignorant, of their motives and how they will use our information?
What difficulties will we face.? How will we cope with them? Will we listen to one another. Will we listen to our dreams?
Will we reach our destination? Do we even know where we want to go?
May God give us signs to guide our direction, may we be brave enough to follow them, to travel emotionally and physically and even religiously and give generously as Gods guides us and be wise in who seek advice from to follow the God the God of Jesus, the baby born to be King.