Christmas should change us, is the thought that kept me circling back around to our texts this Sunday, but how? There are a lot of emotions that swirl around Christmas: nostalgia, awe, sublime joy. But, how often are we challenged by the original story's great themes? This Matthew text (2:1-12) brings to the fore several of those themes: seeking God in a peasant's clothes, Covenant, and the threat that Jesus and his teaching are to all claims to power and control of God's people.
I want to note two immediate responses to the sermon.
One, I am very hard the missionaries who were trying to do good, i.e. tell others about God's love and open for them entrance into that love, because I had gotten to know the people of the village before they came. I have been the missionary who preached first and got to know the villagers after, so my reaction is to my own vocational shadow.
Two, evangelism is vital to the church, but I am not sure that this kind of evangelism is as Biblical as the witness of a community following Jesus in the ways of compassion and non--violence and unwavering fidelity to the grace of God given for all in Christ. To bear witness in the way of Jesus is to live the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 and 6). This way of life gives birth to humble communities that proclaim loudly who God and Christ are, and bear witness to the Holy Spirit's power to transform sinners. If we had done that these last two thousand years, we would have a different world, and we would have credibility when we talked about the Love of God. It is important to tell the Good News, but we have to live that Good News first. The Truth that we have is borne in us (incarnation) as we go out, not merely said but as the angels told the Shepherds, Go and see.