God has Been There

2022-01-02 – Year C – Christmas 2 – The Rev. Canon Christopher M. Klukas

Jeremiah 31:7-14; Psalm 84; Ephesians 1:3-14; Matthew 2:1-12

  • Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes. $1 Million plus $5,000 a week for life.
    • People show up, out of the blue, with an oversized check and a video camera.
    • Chances of winning are 1 in 6.2 billion!

A Surprise Visit

  • Imagine what it might have been like for Mary to answer the door and see Magi with their whole entourage!
  • We tend to think of the visit of the wise men as part of the same story as the visit from the shepherds.
    • These stories are told in separate Gospels (Matthew and Luke)
    • Jesus seems to be older when the magi visit. The Greek word for “child” is used in Matthew (2:9) instead of the Greek word for “baby” as in Luke (2:12).
  • Perhaps, by now, Mary was used to strange visitors for her son.
    • The Shepherds (Luke 2:8-20)
    • Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-38)
  • “gold and frankincense and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11)
    • What became of these gifts, we don’t know, the Bible doesn’t tell us.
    • They may have been a part of God’s provision for the Holy Family during what happens next.

A Midnight Journey

  • Two dreams
    • Warning to the Magi (Matthew 2:12)
    • Warning to Joseph (Matthew 2:13)
  • Crazy, insecure, prideful Herod. Killed at least three of his own sons and a wife.
  • Even in his childhood Jesus was both celebrated as a king as well as viewed as a political threat. This would ultimately be the worldly reason for Jesus’ crucifixion.
    • What a contrast to go from being honored with a state visit to fleeing to a foreign country as refugees.
    • And yet, this was all part of God’s plan. Matthew 2:15 “…out of Egypt…”
  • “My Name is Joseph” in A Stubborn Sweetness by Katherine Paterson. The story of a family living through the Guatemalan Civil War and trying to escape harm. Exerpt from when they set off on their journey. (129-130).

A Tragic Loss of Life

  • One other reason we suspect that the visit of the wise men came years after the visit of the shepherds is because of the age of Herod’s victims. Matthew 2:16.
    • This is the part of the Christmas story that often goes untold.
  • These children were really the first martyrs, dying for the sake of Christ.
    • They had done nothing deserving death, that is why we often refer to them as the “Holy Innocents” whose feast day is December 28.
    • They died in Jesus’ place so that he could live, much like Jesus died in our place so that we could live.
  • These events stir up some heavy questions:
    • Why are some people born into wealthy families while others live in poverty?
    • Why do some people live in peace while others suffer violence at the hands of those who oppress them?
  • There are no easy answers to these questions, but we do know that of all the women in the world, God chose a poor, unmarried girl to be the mother of Jesus.
  • Jesus wanted to identify with the poor, the weak, the refugees, and the outcasts.
    • When Jesus was in danger, God protected him through angels and the actions of the magi and his earthly father.
    • When he was in need, God provided for him through those costly gifts.
  • “Those who lived in the Middle East across the second half of the twentieth century (including this author) experienced frequent warfare…How do people retain their faith under such conditions? One answer is that they remember both the Christmas story and the cross…This story heightens the reader’s awareness of the willingness on the part of God to expose himself to the total vulnerability which is at the heart of the incarnation…From this awareness the readers of the Gospels in any age can take heart.”
  • Following Jesus doesn’t mean a life immune from suffering. But it does mean that when we suffer, Jesus knows what we are going through and will give us what we need to get through it.
  • Collect for the Feast of Holy Innocents, BCP 2019, pg. 625.

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