Based on Matthew 2:1-23
We are drawn to light. On this first day of the New Year, on this first Sunday of the New Year, we seek the light of wisdom and welcome. I invite you to travel with the Magi this morning, to be the Magi this morning, the ones seeking wisdom, divine guidance, the unknown and the unexpected; the ones who risk being changed by the journey.
Our scripture from Matthew, although one continuous piece, changes abruptly, midway. The first half is lovely, hopeful; it has a sense of serenity and completion. Let us join the gift-givers who have found the child Jesus. I offer this gift to us, by author Joyce Rupp. It is called `The Gift’. P97 Out of the Ordinary.
This guided meditation invites us to be among the Wise Ones, offering the gift of aspects and qualities of our life that we most appreciate and enjoy to the Christ child. Our gift is received with love, joy and delight. We also receive a gift, with a special message from Jesus. What does the message say? What is the gift and its significance for our life?
Verse 12 says the Magi did not go back to Herod, once they had found the child, Jesus. They were warned in dream and they listened to that message. We know that part of the story and the reading in church usually stops there, but that’s not the end of the story. Do we think about what it might have cost them? What they risked in doing that? What if Herod had them stopped at the border? Theirs was an act of civil obedience against the local king.
Herod the Great was known for being ruthlessness. He died within a year or two of Jesus’ birth. In those final years, his paranoia about rivals was infamous. Thus we have the story of the massacre of innocents – all the male babies and toddlers of Bethlehem.
And the story is timeless. Tyrants, terrorists and bullies are afraid of sharing power, or of empowering others – be it on an international scale, at the work place or in the school yard.
Joseph, warned in a dream, takes Mary and their child Jesus as a refugee, across the border into Egypt.
I invite you to look at the picture in the upper left corner of the bulletin – a refugee camp stretching away into the distance.
There have always been people who must leave the security of home, when home becomes a monster. The number of refugees in the world has reached the highest level ever recorded, according to figures published by the United Nations (UN).
After an increase of five million last year, the number of people displaced by conflict – refugees, asylum seekers or those displaced internally – was at an estimated 65.3 million by the end of 2015 – almost twice the population of Canada. (Canada’s population was over 36 million this year.)
It is the equivalent of one in every 113 people on the planet, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
We can’t stop every wrong, but with stars and signs, and dreams, and the nudging of the Holy Spirit, we can put our tiny bit if weight behind what we know to be right. When we can’t do everything, we can do something. So again, from the wisdom and grace of Joyce Rupp, I would offer this Blessing for the strengthening of our ministry in this time.
The blessing of compassion, p 103 Out of the Ordinary
(Blessing the mind, ears, mouth, hands, heart, feet and lives of those who seek to serve with Christ-like compassion.)