Christmas Day is rapidly approaching as I write this…
Being an international church community, many are away from the Netherlands at this time in different countries.
Being an international church means people from all over the world and of course Christmas traditions vary. Did you know that for instance in Ukraine, many decorate their Christmas trees with cobwebs and spiders (you can find out why on Google!). Meanwhile in Caracas, Venezuela, thousands will roller skate to church on Christmas morning!
There will also be much generosity, serving and care taking place throughout the world even in the midst of troubled places and hurting lives. Who can you and I reach out to this Christmas time?
This Christmas Eve, at the candle lit service, we will focus on the part of the advent story found in Matthew 2:1-12. It involves….
One star, two kings and three wise guys? That sounds like it could be the beginning of a joke! But it isn’t….
One star – there is on-going debate as to whether it could have been a comet, a conjunction of planets, a supernova or something supernatural…. we don’t know exactly (though I wonder if a supernova if there would be evidence of that? Astrophysicists you don’t necessarily need to write in!)
Two kings – one was a puppet king of the Romans and a local tyrant from what we can read in historical accounts. Yes Herod was known for his grand building schemes but also for his wanton disregard for human life at times. The other One was (and is) the King of the universe, yet born not in a fancy palace but in obscurity and poverty.
Three wise guys? Well what we are told is that there was more than one! Some Christian traditions suggest there were up to 12 (form an orderly queue now please!) They were magi from possibly the Persian area, members of a religious caste and probably seen as ‘wise’.
There is all kinds of drama in this Bible passage – why not read it yourself?
A key line is what the magi ask to Herod, “Where is he who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East and have come to worship him.”
Not just visit him but worship him!
Worship – to give worth to something.
What do you and I give worth to in our lives? Looking at how we spend our time and money might help in answering that question. In fact these probably say more about what we really give our worth to than any claims we might make with our words.
What is ultimately number one in our lives, in terms of what we worship?
The magi recognised the call to come and worship Christ.
The Greek word used in Matthew’s passage here means to ‘kiss the ground when prostrating oneself before a superior’… that is a strong image.
How do we all respond to the idea of worshipping God as number one in our lives?
Christ made it possible for us to truly to be able to do so. But how will we respond this Christmas time?
Wherever you are in the world this week, Happy Christmas to you!