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Monday, December 30, 2013
Today’s Reading | Matthew 2:1–6
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.’” (NRSV)
This year marked a big transition in our family: kindergarten! As the first day of school approached, Tara and Jenna were both eager and a little bit scared. What will school be like? No amount of visiting the school or talking with kids already in school could calm all their fears.
When we first read this scripture passage together, Jenna’s first question was, “Why was Herod so scared of Jesus when Jesus is so wonderful?” Today, of course, we recognize what a wonderful gift Jesus’ birth is to us, but at the time it must have seemed a bit scary, because nothing like it had happened before. All Herod heard was that Jesus was a wonderful king! Did this mean that Herod couldn’t be king anymore? Herod’s fear of the unknown took over all other possibilities and caused him to do some bad things.
All of us, at any age, probably have a bit of Herod in us. When we can’t understand how something new is going to turn out, especially when it’s bigger than we are or somehow threatening, do we fight it? Or do we embrace it in all the mystery that the unknown always has, trusting that God is in all situations and will have a gift for us if we just have the courage to trust and follow?
As our family talked about how scared and unsure we all were on that first day of kindergarten, we smiled because kindergarten has turned out to be so wonderful. At Christmas we are reminded that God gives us gifts we can’t fully understand yet, and sometimes those are the best gifts of all.
Dear God, help me to have less Herod in me and more shepherd in me, and thank you for Christmas. Amen.
Written by Linda, David, Jenna, and Tara Maclachlan, Fourth Church family
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