Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A Light Shines in the Darkness

Leaving the palace of Herod the king, the magi see that which they had been following for some time - a star. This star, placed in the sky by God Himself, lead them to the place where the they would find the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the One promised long before. They rejoiced when they saw the star. They knew they were on the correct path. Following the star a little longer, they came to the place where the Child was - in a house with His mother.

What did they do next? What would you do? What DO you do? That's right, you have been shown the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Savior of the world. What do you do? Do you bow down and worship. Do you offer Him gifts more rare - your heart, your life, your soul? Is your life changed with that daily encounter? Do you proclaim Him to be your King? Do you pledge to Him all that you are and have?

I love the Epiphany story of the wise men coming to Bethlehem to worship Jesus. It is a great story. But I often wonder if there is any impact upon us when we hear that story? We are shown the Savior, the King of kings in the Word and in the Sacraments. It isn't that we come to Him but He comes to us in these Means of Grace. How do we respond? I fear that all too often we are really more like Herod than the magi. Why? Because we do not want to give up control of our lives. We want to continue to live each day as we did before we saw the star, before the Word opened up to us, before we encountered the Savior. Let me live like before. I will give Him what I want, which is not going to be my whole life. Let me give Him just a part, a corner, a little section and then let me continue to live each day as though it doesn't matter.

Not you? Let me ask you, what is your week like? Who is the focus of your week? At home? At work? At school? When alone? Is the Savior the One that leads your every moment? Or do you only follow Him when it is convenient? Do you worship weekly or when it fits your schedule? Do you read the Scriptures each day or when you have a few moments that you might give up from looking at Facebook or working with fantasy football? And before you start to become self-righteous and say "I don't do those thing," I ask you, are you thinking highly of yourself and putting yourself above others like the Pharisee in the parable that Jesus tells? Or are you lifting yourself up and saying, "I am the tax collector that beats himself up in order to show how much he loves the Lord?" So are you becoming self-righteous in your humility?

I guess I see so much of this in myself and in the world around me. People claim to love the Lord and then never attend worship in order to be fed from Word and Sacrament. Others claim to bow the knee before the Christ-child only to turn around and live each day as though it doesn't make any difference for them. I wonder how you can encounter the Savior and live as though you haven't. That is exactly where Herod found himself. Instead of going to worship the Christ, he seeks to kill him. Why? Because he didn't want his life to change. And the only way to continue to live the life you had prior to encountering the Savior is to kill Him off in your life. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot live the life you once lived and live the life of one who has been bowing before the Child. We have been fed a lie by Satan, the world and our own sinful nature. It says, "You don't need to change. You don't need to give up your former life in order to be a Christian. You can be a Christian and not worship, not hear the Word and not receive the Sacrament." Really? Why would you not want what He offers you? And I can hear the argument, "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to a barn makes you a horse." What a ridiculous statement. A horse that doesn't go to a barn is a wild horse, left to the elements. We feel sorry for horses that are left out in the rain, the snow, the cold or the heat. We become upset and work to have the horse brought into the barn to be taken care of by someone. A Christian should also be brought into the very place where he/she is taken care of in their spiritual life. Where is that? It isn't the bar, the football stadium or the office. It is in the house of God, the place where we are fed from Word and Sacrament.

I have digressed. Sorry about that. Do you actually think the magi left the Child and never changed? Do you think they bowed before the Christ-child and then went back and worshiped the gods of the Persians? Do you think they said, "Well, that was nice but I don't need to be involved with that King ever again."

Follow the star. Follow the Word. Come to the Christ-child. Bend the knee. And then let Him change your life. Give to Him the most precious gift you have - your soul. That is the reason He came - for you and your salvation.

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