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December 29

Matthew 2, 1-6

Something to read

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.”
New Revised Standard Version

To read the King James version click here

Something to think about

We begin to see how the birth of Jesus ripples out to transform the world. Matthew tells the story of the visit of these mysterious sages from the east. We know so little about them that there is room for endless speculation.

But it seems they become a vital part of Matthew’s telling because, from the very beginning, they help to signal that the story of this Jewish baby is to touch and transform the entire world. For here are visitors from far away, drawn towards his cradle by signs in the sky and wanting to come and worship him before he has preached, or even spoken, a single word.

It is also another moment in Matthew’s story in which the work of God, and the risk of human greed and power, are intertwined. That long list of Jesus’ ancestors in chapter 1 sets Jesus into the very mixed royal stories of Israel with their cast that mix holiness and the flaws that can come with absolute power.

Now the Magi unnerve King Herod with their questions about the king of the Jews and Bethlehem suddenly finds itself in the sights of his scheming. Salvation and scheming, royalty and risk, pilgrimage and power, prophecy and politics; these are the stuff of this text.   

Something to do

These magi travelled far to find Jesus. How might God be calling you to travel in your life today? Why not make a pilgrimage to somewhere in which to offer a prayer and to be still and let God’s Spirit touch you?

Visit a church. Find a quiet place. Go to where you can spend time with God that is not a normal place for you. See what happens as you become a little bit of a pilgrim today. Or why not use today to plan a much longer pilgrimage somewhere?

Something to pray

You call and beckon us into travelling unknown paths,
into making friends among strangers,
into tasting the new.
Help us, as these ancient travellers did,
to leave the security we treasure behind
so that we might discover the riches of serving you.

Today's contributor is the Rev Neil Thorogood, Principal of Westminster College, Cambridge.


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