Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We live in the internet age. I am an internet user. No great revelation here, but it does mean I can now be reached by e-mail. Like most of you, I can send and receive e-mail from all over the world. I go to my mailbox once a day, and to my e-mail inbox several times a day.
But I have noticed that a lot of what I get in the mailbox and the stuff I get through e-mail are similar in content. There is good news and bad news, the wanted and the un-wanted; and offers for all kinds of things! It doesn’t matter if we are talking regular mail or e-mail, checking it is sometimes like going to the bus station. You never know what to expect.
Perhaps you know what I mean. Doesn’t the unnecessary mail outnumber the necessary mail two to one? (Do you do what I do and sort your mail over the trash can?) And do you wonder if there really is a catalog for everything?
My point is that most mail (e-mail or otherwise) is unnecessary. But this time of year especially, we can’t wait to get more of it. This time of year the mail is fun – red envelopes and green stamps, and Christmas tree stickers. This is the time of year when your old college “roomie” (who married Jill your old college girlfriend) writes from CA. to tell you they are about to be grandparents. This is the time of year when newsletters tell about trips to Disney Land, graduations, and gall bladder surgery. This is the time when mail comes bearing tidings of children who are smart, talented, and so involved in everything. Fruitcakes and gifts and the calendar from your insurance agent or funeral home all come this time of year. And let’s not forget the Christmas cards. Some are funny, some are serious, most share the good news of the birth of a savior.
In the days of Herod, the Great they didn’t have e-mail. The system of mail delivery was not even close to dependable. What they had to bring them tidings (news, greetings, hopes) were messengers. “In the days of King Herod, after Jesus was born, wise men from the East come to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?’” Messengers. Like Christmas cards, they show up with news of a great happening, a worldwide event. Someone had a child and this child was very special.
When King Herod hears this he is upset, and when he is upset everyone is upset. Herod knows this child is the messiah promised of old, the savior; AND he knows that if this is so, God is in charge and he is not. The arrival of the wise men only signals a savior’s claim, which always pits Jesus against the powers of this world. But the story reminds us clearly that God is in charge. The wise men followed the star. Herod calls the chief priests and scribes to find out where the child was to be born so he can go and destroy him. The Herod’s of our lives (of our world) always want to be in charge and will tolerate no interference, even from God. Especially from God!
There is much unrest in our world. There is much fear, especially of others. There is much suffering and killing and struggle. I don’t know what you want, or think you need, in your life today. I can only guess at the pain or fear you may be experiencing. It is possible that the Herod of your life is troubled … and you with him. I only know that God is at work in this world, and in your life. Today the wise men come like Christmas cards, God’s Christmas cards, with the message of a savior. In the child born is salvation. In his name your sins are forgiven.
Wise men. Cards. Messengers. Bringers of hope. Reminders of why we do what we do in the first place. Call them what you will. They show up with the news of a great happening, God’s happening. God is in charge. God comes to save us. God, incarnate, born a child and yet a king. Angels still sing and the star still beckons. God’s love still saves. Forgiveness is given. Words of promise, words of hope; found not in the mailbox or e-mail inbox on the computer, but in the weekly gathering around word and sacrament. I don’t know about you but my heart can use all of those messages it can get.
Pr. Paul <><