Going Deeper 01.07.2021

An alternative reading... the Gospel text for Epiphany (yesterday)... Matthew 2:1-12

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.’”   Then Herod secretly called for the wise men[e] and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”  When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.  On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Yesterday was the day of Epiphany on the Church calendar, and in a way was an 'epiphany' for us all.  (Note: if you would like to talk with someone, both Pastor Ryan and I are available to you.  Mark-- 970-776-6763, Ryan-- 970-214-4992.)  Perhaps we all knew this, but yesterday confirmed-- just like the violent riots not long ago-- the reality that if the citizens of our country do not relearn how to better process our unavoidable differences in perspectives and opinions, we are in trouble.  

I continue to believe that the only organization (actually, more of an organism) in our land which holds the potential for healing is the Church.  Sadly, many--if not most-- churches are predominantly filled with politically like-minded people, and those who find themselves in the minority usually find a different church, or at least learn to not express their political convictions.  Churches with diverse political perspectives (i.e. Zion) are rather few and far between, and find themselves in a precarious situation.  If the subject of politics surfaces, there is great potential for significant conflict and division.

It should not be so!  If we are truly followers of Jesus, we are called to "love our enemies."  In fact, we are called to see that those who hold perspectives different from our own should not be looked upon as enemies, but as brothers and sisters.  We are called to seek and pursue peace and unity.

The kind of attacking, belittling, even violent rhetoric-- from BOTH sides-- which has become increasingly pervasive over the years in our campaigning and the whole political realm is a dangerous poison.  Most of us know how the story in our Epiphany text ends, and we also know that it is only one of a whole history full of examples of how political power can so easily become devastatingly violent.  As children of God, we believe it is possible for people to hold and express different political-- even theological-- beliefs and still treat one another with respect and with grace.

I urge us to continue to do so within our church family and community, to intentionally model peaceful ways to not only co-exist, but to love and respect and productively work with those with whom we disagree.  THIS IS VERY HARD WORK!  Honestly, I am finding this very difficult myself.  But we must seek the aid of the Holy Spirit of God as we pursue living out our calling to love as we have been loved, putting our faith filter always ahead of our political filter, seeking to know and follow Jesus.  WISE MEN AND WOMEN STILL SEEK HIM!

GOD BLESS AMERICA, LAND THAT WE LOVE.

STAND BESIDE HER, AND GUIDE HER

THROUGH THE NIGHT WITH THE LIGHT FROM ABOVE. 

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington

"Gratefully Growing Servants"