new years presence

Okay, now Christmas is over.

Officially, Christmas ends with Epiphany, a celebration marking the journey to worship of the Magi - a story paralleled by the violence and control of Herod.

These stories illustrate how varied our response can be to the Christmas reality of God in our midst - and how challenging it is to integrate the awe and wonder of the Nativity into a new year.

Really, the account of the Magi and Herod is a story of dichotomies.

While they both have the same initial experience – hearing the news of Jesus’ birth and going about searching for the baby - Herod and the Magi both have very different responses.

Herod is scared. Closed-fisted as he grasps to maintain control of his position, doing whatever it takes eliminate any threat to his power. His response to Jesus is one of fear and distance.

How different from the Magi!

The Magi display an openness in their journey of discovery - a journey of giving and receiving. They travel miles and miles, not for themselves, but to pay homage to a king - to worship. It’s not about them. Their response to Jesus is one of journey and welcoming presence.

The week of Christmas, the Magi are inspirational - we are on holidays and such actions are befitting of holiday life. But with a new year - and holidays over - comes new challenges. How quickly we find ourselves more in the shadow of Herod’s grasping than the light of the Magi’s worship. Uncertainties produce fear which produces a desire for control and distance. We feel the pressure to “keep it together.”

This dichotomy in the story of Herod and the Magi has led me to ask several questions relevant to a new year. I hope we can all accept the journey of the Magi as our own. Consider for 2012:
  • What would it look like to adopt a posture of openness in relationship to God and others, even amidst fear or uncertainty?
  • Where, when you are tempted to eliminate whatever danger or uncertainty you might face, do you need to worship instead of control, to pray instead of fight?
  • Where on your journey can you seek presence with God and presence with others instead of distancing yourself when difficulties come your way?
May 2012 bring New Years' Presence!

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