Monday, December 14, 2015

"Expectations"

Well now that "Thanksgivoween" has passed and we are moving towards Christmas we may find ourselves scrambling to get those last minute gifts before the clock strikes midnight on December 24th. And by God’s grace we will see another Christmas Day. In the meantime we expect to be dashing back and forth to the mall or clicking away on line trying to get our shopping completed. We don’t expect anything new or different to happen as we watch the same old Christmas commercials accompanied by the same old Christmas music. We see the media focusing on the same old behavior of people camping out the night before in front of their favorite store and joining the crowds the next day stampeding through the doors of the mall. Then there’s that one person on your Christmas list for whom you have a hard time finding a present. It’s not because they are fussy or difficult to buy for but rather because you have known them for such a long time that you’ve run out of ideas. Do you know someone like that? You’re left scratching your head, what do I get so and so this year? In Matthew 2:1-12, we see Magi who had carefully chosen gifts for a new King that they had heard was born in Bethlehem. But they bring much more to Jesus than the material gifts they have to offer. And their example is one we can easily miss in the frenzy of the Christmas season. Advent is considered a time of expectation, where we await once again the gift of God’s Son, Jesus. In our passage we have a host of characters who are in a time of expectation. The Magi who are sometimes referred to as “Wise Men” were in fact pagan astrologers who were seeking the “King of the Jews” indicating that they were also Gentiles. They had seen a phenomenon which they identified as a “star.” Scholars have debated what these Magi were actually witnessing but nonetheless they have traveled a considerable distance expecting to find this King who the prophet Micah had prophesied was coming. On the other hand, Herod was not expecting his kingship and authority to be challenged by the news of a new King arriving on the scene. His expectation was instead for the Magi to find this new King so Herod could give Him a gift. Unfortunately that gift involved death and destruction. The text doesn’t tell us if Mary was expecting the arrival of these Magi but she may have been waiting and expecting to hear from God as to what was coming next for their family. So the question for all of us is, What are we expecting this Christmas? Are we like Herod, so self focused and absorbed by what we have to get done before Christmas and not expecting anything new or different to interfere with what we have planned? Are we like Mary, waiting and expecting to hear a word from God in the midst of the activity going on around us? Or are we like the Magi seeking and expecting to be surprised by God as we move through this time of Advent, following the simple yet silent signs that God is showing us everyday? You see, too often we can get caught up in focusing on the material gifts and lose the sense of wonder and expectation that this season brings. So, I encourage you to follow the example of the Magi, not so much in the material gifts they presented to Jesus, but rather in their attitude of bowing down and worshipping, presenting to Him the gift of their hearts with humility and the deepest appreciation for the greatest gift God has given to humanity. 
Have a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year,
Pastor Sheree

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