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Glory days of Christmas quickly pass away and God provides for those that hear

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Lord, may our hearts be open to hear your voice and obedient to follow where you may lead us, in our hearts, words and actions - in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit - Amen

We are only on the fifth day of the 12 days of Christmas, yet our reading from the Gospel has            - the song of the angels is stilled

      - the star in the sky is gone

      - the shepherds are back with their flock

      - the wise-men returned homeward

                  …and as you will see - the work of Christmas has just begun

     

                              the "glory days" of gold and frankincense and myrrh did not last for long

There is a warm glow of the nativity scene that many cherish in our hearts each year, this glow touches us often for only a very brief moment

      For many, Christmas is a busy day of running around visiting and traveling or hosting guests in    our home

                  And then there is Boxing Day…

                              Some might view the commercialization and materialism of Boxing Day as an                          intrusion on the sacredness of the Christmas season …. and it is

                                          …But maybe appropriately

      our reading today starts out with “when they had gone´ (meaning the wise-men) Joseph; Jesus’     Earthly Adopted Father was woken in a Dream and given a vision with a message to flee - That             Herod will be after his miracle child

                  Joseph woke Mary and fled in the night

                              …The glow of nativity scene shattered

                                          The intrusion of the world around them breaks into the story

                                                      As it also quickly intrudes our Christmas season each year

                                                     

Why?

      Why would an all-powerful God that came to Virgin Mary - betrothed to Joseph, a righteous        man -  God, which provided for so many details of prophecy to be fulfilled like the messiah           born to the family of David and in the city of David, Bethlehem, moved there by the greed of         Emperor Augustus.

                  Why would God allow this to happen - to his one and only Son…

                              …this fragile baby

Why?

Because God is the true parent - the truest form of a complete parent

      And God’s ways are not are worldly ways

                  God calls us to a higher standard of trust

                              God shows us a better way than making his Son’s existence merely a smooth                           uneventful story

      God truly shows us that He is - Emmanuel - God with us

                  This a distinctive of Christianity - over all the other faith traditions of the world

We have Jesus the Christ - the incarnate one - God in flesh

Our story of the greatest joy, in which we celebrate as Christ Mass, includes the deepest of tragedies?

         We live in a world, yes where there is the incredible power and glory and majesty of God’s          creation all around - but we also have evil

Where a man of power in an attempt to eliminate any challengers to his power would cast a wide net and order the death of all the children under the age of 2 - statistical analysis done by some scholar suggest that given the population of the area at the time and the birth and infant mortality rates of the period, the slaughter was less than twenty children

         Never-the-less a brutal cowardly act

                     We live in a world that has fallen short from God’s vision

                                 For me, part of the answer as to why God would interrupt the glow of the                                              nativity scene lies in knowing that God works in the real world, where tragedy                              is a constant.

Herod is not unique,

         his jealous and fearful attempts at ridding the world of a up-and-coming leader that might            stand in his way, are apparent even this past week

                     This week we saw the assignation of Benizer Buto, the former Prime minister of                            Pakistan and candidate for the up-coming election in February

                                 Like Herod, the suicide bomber and whomever was behind them, was so                                     focused on one person, and completely disregarded the lives of those 20 +                                                 people that were killed around her

Herod, like the tragedy in Pakistan graphically illustrate an African proverb “that when elephants fight the grass gets trampled.”

         There have always been tyrants and murderers and always will be.

                     God works in that kind of world

                                 in all our failings - God comes to us

Vulnerable

         In the need of parents’ protection

         We all have the duty to nurture and protect ‘and declare to others’ the fragile way that God         offers Himself into the world

                     But more than that… more than being adopted into God’s family

                                 And as our reading from Hebrews puts it:

                                             Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters

                                                         Not ashamed to take on humanly flesh and form

Matthew in his account of the early years of Jesus is trying to tell us many things

         He is writing firstly as a Jew to Jewish Christians

                     He starts off with a genealogy - emphasizing the fulfillment of Jesus as the coming                        Messiah and a rightful heir in the line of King David

                                 Then he tells of the miraculous birth arrangements of Jesus and how this will                               fulfill the scriptures “Behold the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a                          son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”

                                             Then the visit of the magi - the wise-men - first to Herod in Jerusalem                                          - then to the city of Bethlehem - to follow the star and visit the one in                                             whom it is written “who will shepherd my people Israel”

                                                         Then the flight to Egypt, and fulfilling the word of the Lord                                                        spoken by the prophet Hosea “Out of Egypt I called my Son”

                                                                     Then the explanation of even Herod’s murderous acts                                                                   as a fulfillment of the prophet Jeremiah where “Rachel                                                                 weeping for her children”

                                                                                 Finally the return to Nazareth to fulfill the                                                                                      prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene”

Matthew is leaving nothing to chance

         Matthew is putting layer upon layer of proof that a Jewish audience would understand and           maybe need to hear

More then that …still:          More then mere proof to a Jewish audience, but also to all who follow afterwards are given a message that: We are also called to listen to God

        In fact ‘protecting God’ in our hearts and minds is a call to listening and following God’s lead

I say listening because Joseph was meet three times in the passage for today with a message in his dreams - instructing him to “get up and go - take the child and his mother”

                     And Joseph was obedient to the messages in his dreams

                                 The word obedience comes from a Latin word meaning, "to listen."

                                             Listening is more then hearing - As any parent can tell you

                                                         Well, at least as I can tell you from my kids…

We have the model of a man that was given an incredible challenge - first his virgin ‘bride to be’ is pregnant - and Joseph comes to understand God’s role and his role by following the message from an angel in his dreams

         Then three more times Joseph being directed by God by listening and being attentive to God        - hearing God’s will for him and his young family

                     The model that Joseph provides for us is of one - that is spiritual aware and obedient

Most of us are unlikely to ever have such a dramatic and directive message from God

         But we can ‘take home’ ‘the principal of listening’ to God and being obedient….

                     For most of us: that will come by ‘God’s revelation’ in His holy word - the Bible

                                 And through prayer

                                             We can learn to hear what some call ‘the still small voice’

And finally - above all rejoice in the greatest gift the world has ever been given - what sets us apart from all other traditions - God incarnate - in the flesh - Jesus the Christ - given into this hostile fallen world - as a fragile baby - where there is manifest evil and yet also where there are whose called to listen - nurture, parent and-by-so be adopted - grafted into God’s family - of which God, Himself was not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters

                    

         Alleluia - Thanks be to God …. Amen

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