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Matthew 2:1-2

Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”
Matthew 2:1-2

Dear God, it’s amazing to me how I can still learn things from this story that are either new to me or I’ve been wrong about. In the case of this story, there is something in the way the story has been told/songs have been written that I learned just yesterday isn’t actually in the text. How many wise men were there? We’re they initially following a star? The text is neither specific about their number (there could have been two, there could have been 200) nor that they were “following a star” (until something guides them to Mary’s and Jospeh’s home in Jerusalem). But at this point, they were an indeterminate number of men reading a celestial sign from a prophecy.

Why is this important to me this morning? It’s simply a reminder that I’m an ignorant person and my theology is flawed by my own biases and flawed teaching I’ve received from others. It humbles me and affirms that I haven’t figured you out, and I haven’t figured life out. I’m just a guy who is loving you as best I can for the simple reason that you have proven faithful to offer me peace and forgiveness, mercy and instruction when I need it. You are worthy of my worship, and worshipping you makes my life better.

Father, I celebrate you. I celebrate everything I know about you and the fact that there is so much I don’t know or understand. You are my God. I am your child. Thank you.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2021 in Matthew

 

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Mothers of the Bible — Mary, Mother of Jesus (Part 8)

After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Matthew 2:9-11

Dear God, when I read this story this morning I asked myself, “What kind of a day has it been?” Aaron Sorkin has used that as an episode title for at least two of his TV series that he wrote. Every day is filled with so much, and we miss most of it. But this day for Mary must have been amazing. We aren’t sure how old Jesus is here, but it’s obviously been a little while because they are now in a house. That tells me that they had established their lives in Bethlehem at that point. They had either figured out a way to get their own house or they were living with someone else. Either way, they were there set up.

I’m sure the day started like any other day. She fed and changed Jesus. She kissed Joseph goodbye as he went to work. Who knows what she was going through that day. Maybe they were trying to figure out how to pay for some things. Then a knock at the door and there are some men there with gifts. They were there to worship her baby and brings gifts to him. What a surreal moment for her. Maybe even an encouragement. I’ve seen my wife go through the doldrums of those first few months of having a new baby. Even the first couple of years. It can be hard. But then you sent her these guys. And I’ve wondered for several years now if they weren’t able to use these gifts to finance their trip to Egypt. It makes sense–especially the gold. I think you were providing for them when they had no idea what was around the corner.

Father, I love the idea that Mary and Joseph were just a couple of regular parents facing the psychological, mental, physical and spiritual challenges that all of us face. You had them on a need-to-know basis, just like you have me and the rest of us. In their case, they needed to be reassured that they had not been mistaken when they heard Gabriel’s messages. These were all events that would carry them through from a mental, spiritual, and psychological standpoint. Please help me to recognize when you are doing the same for me. And thank you for all that you are doing.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
 

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Fathers of the Bible — Joseph, Jesus’s Earthly Father (Part 6)

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star at its rising and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this, he was deeply disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. So he assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people and asked them where the Christ would be born. “In Bethlehem of Judea,” they told him, “because this is what was written by the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah: Because out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel. ” Then Herod secretly summoned the wise men and asked them the exact time the star appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you find him, report back to me so that I too can go and worship him.” After hearing the king, they went on their way. And there it was—the star they had seen at its rising. It led them until it came and stopped above the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overwhelmed with joy. Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and falling to their knees, they worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their own country by another route. After they were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Get up! Take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. For Herod is about to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night, and escaped to Egypt. He stayed there until Herod’s death, so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled: Out of Egypt I called my Son.
Matthew 2:1-15

Dear God, here’s a question that I think isn’t asked enough, but has a simple answer. Why did you pick someone like Joseph? Why not a Person of prominence to be Jesus’s dad? Why not a religious leader? Why not a king? Why was the Messiah born to a carpenter and his fiancé?

I think there are actually several answers. The obvious ones are that those fathers would have been a bad influence on him. We’ve seen how the sons of kings turn out (well, maybe except for Jonathan). We’ve seen how the sons of religious leaders like Eli and Samuel turn out. We’ve seen how Abraham’s, Isaac’s and Jacob’s sons turned out. No, there is certainly no guarantee that someone will turn out well based on who their parents are. All of us are fallible.

In this case, I think you 1.) picked the parents based on their character, regardless of what their status was. But 2,) I think it actually did matter because a person of position would have had much more to lose than Joseph did I think it was probably easier to obey you to take Mary and then do all of this moving around because he didn’t have a lot of encumbrances from his position in life. He had less to lose by going ahead and taking her as his wife. He had less to lose by waking up and deciding to obey and take Mary and Jesus to Egypt.

To relate this to myself, I’ve often wondered how much I’ve allowed myself to not obey something you’ve called me to do because of the things I’ve achieved and/or acquired. I have a lovely wife. Do I want to drag her just anywhere? I have a nice home in a safe town. Am I ready to trade that security in for physical insecurity? I have a job that pays me a nice middle class wage. Am I ready to jeopardize that for uncertainty and a life of truly living on my daily bread? No, I would never have made a good father for Jesus for a lot of reasons, but the biggest one is that I wouldn’t have been prepared to pay the price that Joseph had to pay. I wonder what it would look like if I were ready to pay that kind of price now, and what would you possibly call me to do if I were willing to completely open myself up to any possibilities?

Father, even now, I want to pray and tell you that I am willing to go wherever you want me to go and do whatever you want me to do, but I’m scared. I’m scared what you might call me to do. But I’m going to say it anyway. Father, I am willing to go, I am willing to do whatever you are calling me to do. I’m just going to tell you that you are going to have to make it very obvious because my natural inclination will be to miss anything you call me to do that is out of my comfort zone. So make your plan for me John-proof. Help me to make each decision correctly in the moment and then have this decisions and choices add up to your will.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
 

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