Sunday, January 6, 2008

9:50 PM

Good evening!

That's how the late Alfred Hitchcock always began his little monologues when the TV program "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" was on TV years ago. "Good evening!"

9:50 PM is when Jean and I sat down to dinner. That's about par for Sunday nights. We don't have dinner until we return from Operation Nightwatch Sunday evening worship. Tonight was the 36th consecutive Sunday evening I have led worship there. And Jean has been there with me for more than 25 of these Sunday evenings. Faithful servant, she is. Thank God for Jean!

Epiphany. First Sunday of a new calendar year, second Sunday after Christmas. Time of celebrating God's appearing in the birth of Jesus and the announcement of that appearance through the light of a star. Have you seen any stars lately?

Incredible story. Astrologers (magi) from Persia are in Judea asking about the birth of a king. They end up in an audience with Herod the Great, the tyrannical king of the Jews who is clueless about the meaning of the star that caused the magi to journey so far. Yet the locals all seem clueless. "What star? OK, we might have seen a star; but what's that got to do with the birth of Messiah? Star, shmar! He'll come with an army that will be like King David on ultrasteroids!" Local priests and scribes, when pressed by Herod, interpret the sighting of an unusual star in the heavens as a likely fulfillment of Micah 5:2: the one who would shepherd Israel would be born in Bethlehem.

Herod sends the travelers to Bethlehm to explore and report back. Herod wants to worship this newly born king wannabe also. Yeah, right! His track record of murdering suspected challengers, even if they happend to be among his wives or children kinda puts the lie to his public posture. Doesn't matter that he's just been informed by experts at the Hebrew Scriptures that God might be at work here. He will defy both man and God at all costs. Mortal Herod, acting like he was gonna be around forever.

Meanwhile, you'd think the chief priests and scribes would have wanted to get to Bethlehem also to check things out. We have no indication anybody went on their own. Were they too afraid of losing the favor of Herod that might end the lavish construction project of rebuilding Zerubbabel's temple? Did they value all that wealth and infrastructure more than being ready to receive God's Messiah for which they and their forebears had supposedly been living in expectation for centuries?

The magi go to Bethlehem. They worship, leave costly and highly symbolic gifts and return home at God's direction without checking in with old Herod-dude. They aren't called wise men for nothing!

The outsiders get it. They worship. Those who should be in the know are blind. But it's one thing to be blind. Refusing to see is another. How am I guilty of that very thing?

Odd that outsiders need to show us the work and the will of God. Kinda like that book unChristian I just wrote about. Happened 2k years ago, still happening today.

Any homeless people in your neck of the woods? Anyone to feed or pray with? Anyone to house? Who knows, you might just be extending hospitality to magi or to a uniquely born Son of God. Would we recognize either if we saw them?

Have we seen any stars lately? Good evening!


Pastor Roger

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