by Tom Graves
It is the day after Christmas and the observance of Advent has come to an end. It is easy in the hectic pace of the Christmas season to forget its meaning. In fact, the way our modern-American culture celebrates Christmas, with its emphasis on material gifts, can mask what the season is really all about.
Matthew 2:1 tells the story of the magi who came seeking salvation in the city of Jerusalem. It was the military capital of Herod, a city of wealth and power, as well as the key religious center. If you’re looking for God’s redeemer of Israel, where else would you look? But scribes, who were reading today’s passage from Micah, redirected the magi to the small town of Bethlehem where they found not a king, but a baby; not a palace, but a stable; not a royal court, but peasant family who were soon to become refugees on the run.
If the Christ event means anything it is a celebration that God’s love can be found in any human situation, even in our loneliness, anguish, pain, grief, and fear. Our values are turned upside down and we find salvation not in the most popular, most successful or most powerful, but in the weakest thing imaginable: a crying baby in a feed trough.
Matthew 2:12 closes the story by saying that the magi “departed to their own country by another way,” that is, they did not return to Jerusalem. That should be true of us as well. If we truly encounter the Christ child during this Advent season, we cannot continue to walk in the same old way.
Prayer: Christ, be born in us anew, that we may walk in a new way of life. Amen.