Matthew 2, 1-4
Something to read
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
King James Version
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.
New Revised Standard Version
Something to think about
Have you planned your holidays for this year? Going somewhere nice?
The wise men may not have had to book tickets and cancel the milk, but a journey through harsh desert lands for educated men of status probably would look quite different to Christmas card silhouettes of three men on camels.
Water, provisions, tents, servants, astronomical charts, gifts and goodness only knows what else must have made a pretty impressive entourage – at least Herod seemed impressed enough to take their words seriously.
These were men of substance; they were on their way to worship the new-born King of the Jews. Herod was a man of substance; he was troubled by the new-born King of the Jews.
What about us? We, too, worship Jesus in Bethlehem. We worship the new-born King of the Jews and the troubling God-with-us; a king with no status who turns upside-down our expectations of who is first and last under God’s reign.
Something to do
If you are going away this year, consider whether you could spare some time not only to visit the tourist areas but to visit the troubling areas.
This is not encouraging you to take risks with your own personal safety, but a challenge to look into the eyes of the homeless person on the seafront, buy a coffee for the beggar in the city centre or see beyond the annoying tat-selling touts to consider whether it is the person living in splendour or the person living in squalor that God calls us to serve.
Something to pray
Give me eyes to look at the world differently and see who comes first in your kingdom.
Today's contributor is Melanie Smith, a student training for ministry with the United Reformed Church at Westminster College, Cambridge.