’s Mark Kurowski reflects on why it is that people are traveling that far to see a baby.  Why are people afraid of that baby?  What exactly is it about that baby that elicits such strong reaction?  Listen to this podcast of his reflection for the Epiphany to find out why. Please read Matthew 2:1-12. 

 For, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 1/6/2013 The Epiphany.

Please pause this audio and read Matthew 2.1-12.
Why Would They Travel That Far?
    I want to be perfectly clear about this, “When you are walking upstream, and the wheels fall off your canoe, it takes nineteen pancakes to fill a doghouse because the crows fly North for the winter.”  Isn’t it just about as clear as wise men who travel over mountains, through wind blown deserts, risking being attacked by robbers and thieves just to see a baby in a manger in a very small town called Bethlehem.  At first blush, it isn’t very clear why they would do such a thing is it?
    I mean, what kind of nuts are they?  If anyone did a thing like that today, you and I wouldn’t be surprised if they would lock them up.  More likely, they would create their own webpage.  There doesn’t seem to be anything clear about this situation at all, from a twenty-first century viewpoint.
    In the new Christmas standard, The Santa Clause, starring Tim Allen, there is this scene where Allen is taken reluctantly to the North Pole.  He is being told that he is the next Santa Claus.  In the process of the whole thing he keeps saying that no one can see Santa Claus.  Finally this elf named Judy says something that I love, “Seeing isn’t believing; believing is seeing.”  What makes no sense to the world makes complete sense to us. The world thinks it must see to believe, but we know that believing in Jesus is seeing things clearly.
    So the wise men followed that star because they believed there was a king at the bottom of it.  They believed in the babe lying in a manger because it was the babe that was making things clear to humanity.  You and I know this, because we know that all things are made clear through Jesus Christ.  It is when we follow the star through the wind blown desert of our lives that we encounter Jesus.  It is when we cross over the mountainous terrain of fear that we encounter God’s hand reaching into history in the form of a man.  It is when we risk being robbed of whatever we think is more important than Christ that we are changed by what we can see through faith.  He may be an ordinary baby to the world, but to us he is the hand of God reaching into human history and changing everything.
    What was clear was that this was not any ordinary baby.   God let it be known that he was not going to stand idly by while the Israelites and Gentiles alike wallowed in their sin.  Nor was he going to leave you and I without help in conquering sin.  The Lord our God let it be known that he was going to send his Son to pioneer salvation for the world.  He would pioneer salvation not as some nebulous god in the sky, but as a God in the flesh working out the salvation of the world.  He would be born like us.  He would grow up like us.  He would be tempted like us.  He would die in the body like us.  But unlike us he would be the first to rise from the dead so that we who can see clearly now, would rise from the dead on the last day.
    Today is Epiphany Sunday.  ‘Epiphany’ is a word that means, “made manifest,” “made clear.”  It is when Jesus had come that the intent of the Lord was made clear: he would send his son, the God-man, to break into human history to be the eternal Messiah who would pioneer the salvation of humanity and bring the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.
    Why was it that Herod would be afraid of a baby lying in a manger?  Why is it that Herod would be afraid of a person who would not threaten his reign for years to come?  The passage tells us that Herod and “all of Jerusalem” was afraid.  They were afraid because the baby lying in the manger came to change the world–not just to save individual souls.  That child came to be the Lord and God of all.
    A ‘god’ takes over our lives.  Our lives begins to revolve around that thing or person.  Alcohol is the god of an alcoholic.  Heroin is the god of a heroin addict.  Shopping is the god of a shopaholic or power tool aholic.  
This “violation of the first commandment” like quality is why I have a real hard time when sports figures or “hip and happenin’” people say to each other, “You are a god, man!”  When the Magi and we claim that Jesus is Lord, we are claiming that our lives revolve around him.  He becomes the ruling force in our lives.  We must gather to worship him.  Being a worshiper of Jesus the Lord and Second Person of the Trinity means that our lives change and are used to change the world.  We are no longer our own.  All that we do needs to revolve around the worship and service of the Trinity.  And we must be willing to do whatever it takes to serve Him.
    The wise men were willing to risk robbery, the treachery of the mountains, and the harshness of the desert because they came to see God breaking into human history and changing history forever.  So what are you willing to risk?  What are we willing to be so that we can give good gifts to God?  What is our role in being a living example of our part of the Kingdom of God on earth?  What does our participation in worship look like if we are to worship like they do in heaven?  What does our justice look like when we help brothers and sisters in sin?  What does our compassion for the lost and forgotten of the world look like if it is to reflect the compassion of God?  How does that change the way we do business?  How committed ought we become to our ministries in the local churches?
    Are we willing to risk our reputation?  Are we willing to risk our spiritual comfort?  Are we willing to risk our material comfort?  What is it that the Lord is making clear to us this Epiphany that we must change or do?
When we go forward for our encounter with the Lord as the Body and Blood of Christ, receiving Christ in the bread and cup of his Communion, let us offer up ourselves with the Holy Sacrifice. Maybe we too can follow the star as to worship God now through our worship of him and our service in the world. The Lord has made himself clearly known, let us now clearly be known to know him.  Amen.
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