Pulpit Reflections by Pastor Martin Gaschow I've always liked those catchy little phrases that the Christian marketing people have come up with at this time of year: "Jesus is the reason for the season," or "Christ is at the heart of Christmas." The one that has always caught my attention is "Wise men still seek Him," because it has something to say about true wisdom.
Matthew 2 has this to say: "In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men (or astrologers or Magi) 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'" (Matthew 2:1-2, NRSV). Isn't that interesting? These astrologers from the East had been looking at the heavens and saw the star appear that signaled a singular event in human history � the birth of this special king of the Jews!
It wasn't that these astrologers, in their own wisdom, figured out that a new king of the Jews had been born, and so, on their own initiative, searched until they found him. No, the wisdom that these Magi displayed was that they heeded the sign that God had placed in the heavens for them to see. Their wisdom came not in their seeking, really, but in their following God's leading. Their wisdom came in not rejecting the plain signpost that God has provided them.
In that way, the Magi are not that different from the shepherds, who we hear about in St. Luke's account of the birth of Jesus: "In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel (a messenger) of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid; for see � I bring you news of great joy for all people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger'" (Luke 2:8-12, NRSV). The shepherds, just like the Magi, were given an announcement and a sign, and their wisdom was shown in that they didn't ignore the news God had sent them.
How is it with you this season? Have your holiday preparations, squeezed by poor weather, overwhelmed you? In your busy-ness, have you heeded the message that God has given you? If we stop with the merely cute, romanticized features of the Christmas story, while we may get the warm fuzzies, we lose out on the main message God has for us. Sentimental Christmas is a fragile thing, easily crushed by the tragedies of life that are visited upon us. But if we heed the message of the star and of the angels, if we practice the wisdom of the Magi, and follow after what God is telling us, then we will hear the good news of Christmas. For it is a God who cares enough for us who takes on our shape, our body. It is that God who is born in the stable, who follows his love for us by dying on the cross of Calvary, who redeems us from the grave and restores us in relationship to our creator and with each other.
Perhaps it is not as pithy to say, "Wise Ones still follow after God's intrusion in our lives," but that is true wisdom, indeed. May God bless your celebration of his son's, our Lord Jesus Christ's birth.