INSPIRE. IGNITE. INVITE. Advent Devotions. Thursday, December 22, 2022
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, magi from the east came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star in the east and have come to pay him homage.'” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him…
Matthew 2:1-3 (New Revised Standard Version)
Of course, they’re frightened!
“For the world is about to turn.” The Canticle of the Turning (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, p. 723)
I wonder why Herod was surprised by this news. Didn’t his own experts tell him about this prophecy? Were they afraid to share this bad news with the king? It makes me think of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes where everyone goes along with the pretense that the emperor is wearing new clothes when, in fact, (spoiler alert!) he is naked.
Regardless, foreigners made Herod aware. And these magi ignited a firestorm! When the reigning power feels threatened it can, and usually does react violently. King Herod did. Matthew 2 recounts that he ordered the killing of Bethlehem’s baby boys under the age of two. We remember their sacrifice on the first Sunday after Christmas.
And I wonder what this story can teach me. Fear flares when the political situation seems threatening. I feel anxious when watching the evening news. Then I am invited to see that the magi were seeking Jesus. The threat to Herod, and to any other earthly power, is the kingdom launched by Jesus. It’s already here and yet it’s not. When my faith reminds me that God’s kingdom is already here, a reality beyond what I can see, I get a sense of peace back. I am comforted when invited to consider the wisdom of Romans 8 that NOTHING “…will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Prayer: Invite us to remember Your kingdom when life’s bad news makes us anxious, O LORD.
Wondering while waiting: Tell about a time when the invitation to ‘come and see’ sounded frightening or alarming to you.