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WC-UMC

Walker Chapel UMC

Sanctuary Open for Prayer: Sunday, 9:00 am
Adult Study: Sunday, 9:30 am
Worship: Sunday, 10:30 am
Children's Sunday School: Sunday, 10:45 am

 

 


January 2019

Suggested reading: Matthew 2:1-12


Here’s a poem by an author whose name I’ve long since forgotten but whose rhymes have nonetheless remained with me for many years:


Ever-singing sagas dwell

 on a Sign that blazed afar;

Never a Christmas but they tell

 how the Wise Men know the Star.


When the singing angels passed,

 and the shepherds went their ways,

To the Child, not least though last,

 pilgrim scholars rendered praise.


Wise Men hold the crowns of kings;

 in their runes the call of fate.

Blind the counsel learning brings;

 sure its triumph—sure and late.


Driven souls, a-prey to fears,

 Love delivered long ago;

hazards of the unknown years

 how should wandering magi know?


Mystic lights and shadows fell

 round the Sign that closed His day;

the unlearned read its meaning well;

 Wise Men led their sons astray.


Eyes of seekers venturing far

 scan the heavens from tower and hill;

steadfastly the timeless Star

 Keeps its state—and beckons still.


The poem reminds me of how many and varied the hopes and concerns of people must have been around the time of Jesus’ birth. The Wise Men (or magi), of course, were among them. My guess is they were Zoroastrian priests because, among other things, Zoroastrians believed there would come a series of three saviors following the birth of the religion’s founder, Zoroaster. It’s possible it was the first of these saviors they were seeking when Jesus was born.


Herod also sought Jesus in his own inimical way. Tipped off by the magi that the child to be born would be king and therefore a threat to his power, he urged them to search diligently for the child and to bring him word so that, ostensibly, he also could worship him.


The shepherds are not part of Matthew’s account. They appear in Luke’s gospel. And we can’t be sure of their motivations. Contrary to the Christmas carol, “Rise Up Shepherds and Follow,” the shepherds in Luke’s gospel were not guided by a star but by an “angel of the Lord.” Why this vision should have come to the shepherds is a mystery. Luke may have been suggesting they were more spiritually attuned than folks in the city. Whatever the reason, we’re told the shepherds rose up and went to see this thing that had happened, which the Lord had made known to them.


Many and varied were the reasons why people sought Jesus and why they continue to seek him. Sadly, there are some who do not seek him or who, if they do, know very little about him. Even what they “know” is probably wrong, based more on what others have said about Jesus than on what is actually written about him in the scriptures and elsewhere. I do believe that as Christians you and I have an obligation to help set the record straight as we find ourselves able. 


Others, I think, are just curious. They are people who may have heard something about Jesus and would like to know more about him but who show no real resolve to alter their lives one way or another as a result. They have what may be described as a purely casual relationship with the man from Galilee, befriending him but otherwise keeping him at a safe distance. 


Then there are those who truly do seek Jesus. They seek him in order to honor him both with their lips and with their lives. Perhaps you’re one of them. I do hope so, and as such that you will make it your business this coming year to do all that is in your power to increase your numbers, for the world needs Jesus now more than ever. As is said in a once popular hymn, we really do have a story to tell, you and I. We’ve a story to tell of truth and mercy, a story of peace and light. We’ve also a song to sing, a song that shall conquer evil and shatter the spear and sword. We have a message to give, that the Lord who reigns above has sent us his Son to save us and to show us that God is love. We have a savior to show to the nations, who the path of sorrow has trod, that all the world’s great peoples might come to the truth of God.


Blessings on you, then, as we enter this new year. And blessings on you as you continue to seek Jesus.


Yours in Christ,

Mark