Sunday 6 December
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him." When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written: 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.' Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."
Message: - Our way or His way?
If you have been around church for a few years you should know the size of the ask that Mary agreed to! Because of her willingness, her life is now mapped out for her. You will know that God provided for her too as she raised her family then followed her first born – Jesus – on his mission to teach the good news.
Let’s now look at the cost for the Magi too. It isn’t known exactly where they lived but you know the song “We three kings of Orient are”. This gives us a best guess, that they may have travelled as much as 9.500 miles and at something like 20 miles a day. Their camels would need regular time off to rest and to feed up again before continuing on their journey. So, it is thought the Magi travelled for 2 ½ years to get to Bethlehem. That was why Herod, driven by jealousy, killed boys under three. That journey was epic in terms of its statistics yet the Bible misses out on what they needed for their journey. They would have had a full caravan to support them on the journey. God’s provision once again facilitating what they needed.
With such a big ask of them, at least they had each other to discuss how huge a discovery the star was and to keep their spirits up on the journey. Mary and Joseph too had their stories to share together as they headed off to Bethlehem and of course they all had the protection and provision of God.
We too need support groups around us for when times are tough. We can grow a support group around ourselves from those we trust and who understand the concept of hearing form God. That folks, is why Bible Study and Prayer groups are so important to our faith. It is there that we can find those folks in whom we can place our trust. It is so fundamental and yet we are not called to account for not attending these groups. So often, even someone who has been in the church week on week is absent and nobody goes to see if they are ok. That is, because of all the things that the church is doing, whether you think the church gets things right or wrong, we exemplify allowing you freedom of choice. A choice God gave Adam and Eve at the beginning of life on earth. That self-same freedom of choice allows people to get lost from our fellowships far too easily.
I know of a church that has done away with the visiting Elder and replaced that role with the whole congregation. You notice when someone is missing better that any individual Elder. You can keep that contact going and encourage and support “your friend” when things are a challenge. You can let the pastoral care team know when there is a problem and you can celebrate with them when they feel able to came back to church or the challenge is resolved. That is a support group. I believe if we have such a support base, then with their help, if we choose to place our trust in God and allow Him to shepherd us, we will know we are getting it right. Then, who knows how exciting the journey will be?
The Advent Conspiracy suggests we should keep our noses out of each other’s business but love says we should already be a part of each other’s lives before things get tough.
Did you know when someone says they are fine; it is an acronym for “Feeling in need of encouragement”. For that reason, I encourage you all to form support groups and to encourage one another.
May the love of God, shown to us in Christmas, be reflected into your circle of friends and neighbours to God’s glory not just this Christmas but always – as he will lead us. Amen
I do hope you will join us for our Christmas Services, details are here on our website.
However, if you have other plans then I wish you a merry Christmas and all of God’s richest blessings.
Rev Fred Harrison