(* perusal; to examine or consider with attention and in detail)
Matthew 2: 1-3, “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him…”
The Holiday season is upon us again. Soon folks will travel to malls, revitalized downtowns, big box stores or small Mom and Pop shops to traipse around, waiting for something shiny to catch their eye. Or some will set in front of a computer screen “surfing the web” for the lowest price, latest gimmick, or next “got to have” item. When our girls were children for a couple of years Cabbage Patch dolls were the rage. Robby and I could not respond fast enough to purchase the real thing so we had a lady make us two for Stephanie and Megan. (This may have had something to do with our refusal to stand in freezing weather, hours on end to make a consumer purchase of another faddish doll). They were just as excited over the handmade dolls as they were over the real thing. In fact, we bought the real deal a few months later after the craze had subsided and for less mammon (that’s USD $). They were grateful of course, but the newness, the shininess, had worn off.
Things that are shiny attract young and old alike. We decorate our homes today from the top of chimney down to the basement. Theme Christmas trees are popular - college mascots, Disney characters, NASCAR…the list is endless. Each dressed just so, shiny and bright. I can remember when mom and dad put up our Christmas tree, just a couple days before Christmas. We enjoyed searching to find a suitable pine tree in the fields or woods about our home. We all helped with the decoration and our eyes danced with the reflection of the multi-colored large lights that were wrapped about the tree. Santa arrived (somehow), and two or three days later, the tree was removed. Christmas was a memory until next year.
Today, the shiny decorations of Christmas can be seen before Halloween. Even churches become captive to shiny as their theme this time of year. Christmas extravaganzas, spectacular light and laser shows, dancing bears and sugar plum fairies are the norm. And yes, there must be a crèche, and don’t forget the Magi. They were attracted to a shiny light, were they not?
Even the Gospel may appear shiny at first. But, because of sin, it loses its luster. The Gospel, thankfully, doesn’t change and is forever fresh and new. Its message is bound in the person of Christ Jesus. Announced to our little world under the beam of a shiny star he journeyed eventually just five miles from his birthplace to be crucified for the sins of mankind. No shiny stars then…in fact the sun refused to shine as His father forsook Him.
The earth was dark that day but the light of the glorious gospel of Christ shone brightly three days later when He rose again. Men in shining garments appeared to announce Jesus’ resurrection. The shining lights of Christmas give way to the shining, radiance and effulgence of the Savior and Lord of the world rising from the dead.
The Magi followed a star, or perhaps a constellation of stars supernaturally arranged in time to announce to these pagans that Someone very unique had arrived. Christ’s birth wasn't shiny, none of today’s trappings, revealing parties, baby showers, or Facebook announcements. He left Glory, condescending into poverty for our sake. Angels, bathing the countryside with glorious light, announced the most profound message – peace could be had for all that welcomed Emmanuel. They left, leaving Jesus in the care of two young earthly parents, relying on His father’s protection for the few years that lay before Him. Nothing shiny here, move along, nothing to see here.
Peter would write in 2 Peter 1:19, “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts…”
Has our Lord Jesus Christ arisen in your heart this year? Has the light of the world, God’s magnificent Son, made His abode in your heart? Is the shiny just so much glitter in a world gone made with spotlights? The star in the East that led wise men is the “…Root & Offspring of David, the bright and morning star!”
Merry Christmas and my prayer is that 2014 will be known in your life as the year of growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ to God’s glory.
Sola Deo Gloria!