I wrote the article below as a Christmas greeting on behalf of our city’s pastors.
It was published in our local paper today.
A small note of personal amusement: I don’t title these articles, so the paper’s editor has to read them and come up with a title. I’d hoped this year’s message would prove resistant to having a moralistic title formulated for it. I think it proved to be so. This appeared under the title A Festive Reminder, and was subtitled Christian community offers faith advice. Which suits me fine. There’s plenty of advice about how to live this time of year; the Christian message is about God coming and making us His own.
Anyway, on with the article.
They were wise, and they bought gifts. We don’t know how many of them there were, or much about their backgrounds at all. But what is important is that they were wise, and they bought gifts.
The wise men spoken of in Matthew’s Gospel put their knowledge into practice and sought to grow their understanding by seeking the one who was born to be king. In finding Jesus they did not only increase their own wisdom, they met wisdom greater than theirs. They met wisdom itself. Incarnate in flesh.
What else could these wise men do? They worshipped Jesus, recognising a reign and rule that did not depend on human authority.
The true wonder of the story however is not the wise men finding Jesus. Rather it is that God incarnate seeks out humanity. It was God who made the promises and set the star that the wise men followed. Earlier, at the time of Jesus’ birth, angels told the shepherds of God coming to them. They went and saw the one who sought them.
Jesus has sought out countless numbers of people ever since. In every era of history, from every culture, from every socio-economic group, from every life-experience and background. He has come, and the cross and his resurrection are the seal of his saving power.
The true seeker in the Gospel stories is the Lord Jesus Christ. Those he finds respond with joyous open hearts, with generosity to those in need, with forgiveness toward those who injure them, and face the future with peaceful assurance.
I’m sure you’ll read a lot of sound advice about what to do or not do this Christmas season, and please, do drive carefully, don’t overindulge, do cherish love and friendship, and don’t forget to make the most of time spent with family and friends.
But a Christian Christmas greeting can’t finish with a list of dos and don’ts as if following that advice is the essence of Christian faith, or represents what we’re about.
On behalf of the Mount Gambier & Districts Minister’s Association, our Christmas greeting is that Jesus Christ, God who seeks, will find you and bring his salvation to you and yours; or, if you are one of those he has already found, that knowledge of his love will see love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control continuing to grow in your lives.
Mount Gambier & Districts Minister’s Association.