Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas reflections: seeking

The magi in the Christmas story (Matthew 2:1-12) received insight from God, from Scripture (maybe through a Jewish community in exile) and from the skies. They studied the stars. And while some of what they did with that study well could have been misguided, there came, in their observations, a special breakthrough of revelation from God. Yes, a star was to come, as the Hebrew Scriptures said. And this was the time. And Israel would be the place. And so they found the star, and somehow it was a sign, enabling them to find the baby Jesus.

From what we can tell, these magi were at least not beggars. They had enough, and probably more, from what we can gather from the story, to concentrate their time, efforts and skill on their love of studying stars, and whatever else they may have done. But somehow they came into contact with the Hebrew Scripture's promises about a great king to come. One who would be blessed, and would bless the entire earth.

This set the Magi to becoming seekers. Their seeking involved a trip. Perhaps from Persia or Arabia. They brought gifts, fitting for such a special king. Their journey would have afforded them more time to meditate on what they were doing, and why, though they may still have been filled with wonder. After stopping in Jerusalem to inquire of King Herod just where this baby, born king of the Jews was, they headed off to Bethlehem, as they had been told through the prophecy (Micah 5:2,4).

When the arrived, overjoyed at the sign of the star guiding them, they bowed down and worshiped (or, paid homage to) him. Then they presented their special gifts, befitting a king. And they returned home, warned by God not to let Herod know the whereabouts of the child as he had requested.

While perhaps the biggest fact we can gather from this story is that this is the beginning of Gentiles coming to the Messiah, the King of Israel, to submit to him, I think we can draw, from that, thoughts for ourselves. After all, most of us are Gentiles. And even Jews have to learn to do the same (isn't it remarkable how great things nearby, under our noses, can be taken for granted, while others travel many miles to see them?).

First, God puts it into our hearts through creation that he exists, and something of his greatness in that existence, as well as the hope that he is good. From Scripture, we know God is revealed to be great and good. And from this, we can become seekers.

What we are seeking, though we may not initially know it, leads us to Christ, to Jesus. This seeking requires effort on our part. But it is kept glowing, not just by our efforts, but by something and Someone beyond us.

And this seeking really preempts everything else. We know that it is something we need, and others may need as well. So we journey on. Sometimes this may take days. For others of us, it can involve years. But it becomes something of what is important and at the heart of who we are.

When we finally arrive, we know we have found it! By then, we know we ought to give not only our best gifts, but first of all our very lives. And so, in faith we receive the greatest Gift of all. And in receiving, we worship. And like Abraham, we become worshipers of the one true God revealed in Jesus.

After that, life goes on, but nothing is the same. We are held captive by the vision we have witnessed. We know what we have done has left us undone, but refitted, and really remade, with a new heart, a new mind, a new life. And we continue to be seekers and worshipers throughout our lives.

In your story, what has helped you to be a seeker, finder, and worshiper of God in Christ?

1 comment:

l said...

a good post.