Jesus Has Come!
Have you ever anticipated the arrival of anyone? We’ve just come through a time of the Church year when we have anticipated, and celebrated, the coming of our Lord. Christmas has come and gone, what happens now that the hype is over?
It’s in the midst of the taking down of Christmas that we can be reminded again, that the Christ has come for us. He hasn’t come to us just during the celebration of the holidays, but He is here for the normal, everyday, routine of our lives. It’s into that kind of world that we land in our text for today.
Tradition has it that the story found in Matthew 2:1-11 happened as long as two years after the birth of Jesus. Just like the time of year we now find ourselves, the hype was gone. Jesus is most likely a toddler, tearing things up around the house like any other two-year-old would do.
What we do know, is that day-in, day-out living for the parents of Jesus had begun. Normalcy has set into the home of Mary and Joseph. It’s to this picture–this normal home with a toddler and regular parents–that these strange figures, star gazer, astrologers, show up. Nothing for them had been normal as they made their western sojourn.
These are people who are waiting for a new word. Like we find in Isaiah 60:2, darkness is dominating the world, but the light has come, and if it’s here, they want a piece of it. The calling for the people to rise and shine, recognizing that their light has come, is the new word everyone has been waiting for. But what exactly does that mean?
This is the continuing story of a God who is initiating a relationship with us. We’ve seen throughout the Christmas narrative in both Luke and Matthew that God is seeking to make himself known. Let’s review briefly today how this story of Christmas unfolds in some dramatic ways.
God approaches Mary, a teenage girl, whom scholars say is no older than 14. God then approaches a man, engaged to marry a woman now pregnant with the “Son of God.” He proceeds to approach a group of frightened, lonely shepherds, who will serve as the first group of witnesses to the birth of this new King. Odd to choose a set of people who’s character is so questionable that their testimony isn’t even credible in court.
And yet, these people are blind. Jesus would later call them “sheep without a shepherd.” They weren’t finding help within the religious system, there was no hope among politicians, and their oppression continued as it had for the past 450 years.
It appears that they are seeking Him, doesn’t it? In reality, it’s just another example of Him seeking out us. God is again initiating the relationship with us. He places parents in a stable, a baby in a manger, angel choirs on the hillsides, and a star in the sky.
First there’s Herod. He is so afraid of a child he has an entire region of male toddlers slaughtered. He was concerned with what this child would do to his life–too much interference. He might lose his position, his seat of power.
If that happens, he also loses his ability to influence, because power and control is how we influence others. Take a look at the group of religious men surrounding Herod, the “chief priests and teachers of the Law.” This is the church board of the day.
Their response is complete indifference. They were so wrapped up on their Temple duty, their allegiance to the task at hand, that they didn’t have time to deal with this child from Bethlehem, or wherever he is from. They are so consumed with their own affairs, their own sense of importance, that they don’t give the time of day to Jesus. He means nothing to them.
Then there is the last group in this story, the wise men. It’s no wonder we still talk about them; they are the first true “spiritual seekers.” They have a choice: stay home or journey after this sign. A journey like this couldn’t make any sense then or now.
This passage gives a new message of hope. It shows a God who makes the first move, always in our direction. And it demands a response, one way or the other. There is no middle ground on this one. We either journey, work to stop others who are journeying, or just don’t give a darn. Either way, a choice is made.
Just like them, it demands a response from us as well. This is a God who isn’t just about engaging our lives during the “holidays,” but wants to walk through life with us in the routine, the struggles, the not so good days, the Januarys of life.
Where do we find ourselves today? Too concerned about what this baby might cost us? Indifferent to the life this child can enable us to live? Or genuinely seeking to know Him more and worship Him. God still calls, how will we respond
I will thank thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and will praise thy Name for evermore: for thou, Lord, art good and gracious: and of great mercy unto all them that call upon thee, alleluia.
Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. 1 Chron. xxix. 11.
The Second Sunday after Christmas Day
ALMIGHTY God, who hast poured upon us the new light of thine incarnate Word; Grant that the same light enkindled in our hearts may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For the Epistle. Isaiah lxi. 1.
THE Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.
The Gospel. St. Matthew ii. 19.
WHEN Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life. And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judæa in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: and he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene
The Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus
O God, who didst ordain that thine only-begotten Son should be the Saviour of the world, and didst command that his Name should be called Jesus: mercifully grant, that we who worship his holy Name on earth, may at length behold him face to face in heaven. Where he liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of …
In those days: Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
St. Luke 2:21
At that time: When eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.