Christmas 2, Year C 2022

Matthew 2:1-12

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

`And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; 

for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.'” 

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Sermon:

Pregnant, unmarried  Mary and her fiancé Joseph,

schlepped 90 miles, on foot, to  Bethlehem 

so they could register to pay Rome’s taxes.  

And we thought the IRS was a pain in the neck!

 

When the baby boy came, the accommodations weren’t that great … 

but they could have been worse. 

 

No meds or Lamaze. 

But at least there was warm well water. Maybe a mid-wife.

And maybe a bed of straw.  

And of course, the “Three Wise Men”, as surprise guests. 

 

This is a story is about 1st century Messianic expectations

  • the Promised Land; and 
  • the restoration of a Davidic Kingdom; and
  • the final defeat of Israel’s enemies; with the 
  • Hebrews finally basking in their Lord’s Grace and Glory. 

 

Herod knew, and we all still know, that the little boy’s birth 

would change the World forever.  And it did. 

Nothing is the same after Jesus. 

Because after Jesus, salvation is possible.

 

The baby born on the 1st Christmas night began as any other boy,

And he, apparently, grew up like a regular kid, 

in a normal family

in God’s time, Jesus began to stand out in a crowd.  

 

The world then was full of Messianic pretenders,

But Jesus didn’t seem to claim a predictable Messianic role.

 

He did stand out, and he knew that he did. 

He made public miracles, on purpose, 

Not just to feed thousands or to heal the lame, 

But to show everyone that the Messiah wasn’t going to be 

what people had long expected. 

 

Jesus wasn’t like the other Messianic claimants …  

Even if he didn’t preach peace, he definitely preached love. 

 

Instead of amassing an army, and building a political base,

Jesus focused on the world’s underclass.

The poor, sick, cursed, hungry and outcast. 

He looked after his friends, like Lazarus, 

And he looked after his family.  But we all do that.  

 

Jesus looked after complete strangers. 

He touched and fed and healed, the untouchables.  

That’s who God the Father called Jesus to be.

Who is God calling us to be? 

 

2,000 years ago God’s Kingdom broke into ours, 

through Jesus’ birth, and life and death on a cross.  

We are living in that kingdom now.

 

We are the blessed beneficiaries of Jesus’ Holy Kingdom Work.

We’ve got Kingdom work, to do, right here and right now. 

Who is God calling us to be, this year?

 

At home Dana and I have a beautiful dog, 

who we rescued as a little girl, from the pound in Belton.

We love our Red Queensland heeler. 

You know, I think all of our dogs and cats 

have been some kind of rescues. It’s wonderful.

 

And then, it’s easier to rescue an animal than it is 

a child, a woman or a man. 

It’s easier to pray for them than to feed them. 

But Jesus healed bodies and feed thousands and healed souls.

 

Jesus came to save us all, and to show us how to live. 

Who is God calling us to be, this year?

 

Our work is more than repairing this nice building.

Our work is more than writing a check.

Our work is more than praying for our friends.   

 

Who is God calling us to be, this year?

 

These are days for both self-reflection and action. 

There is much to consider and there is much to do. 

 

This year let’s ask Jesus, Who am I called to be?

Let’s Welcome the Kingdom this Christmas and this year,

By agreeing to live thoughtfully, 

Honoring our human dignity and everybody else’s. 

   

-AMEN

 

 

 

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