Well, in all my years of Christmas reflections, this was the first time I found myself relating as Herod in the Christmas story.
Through all the decades singing Christmas carols and hearing preachers expound on the incarnation, I’ve imagined what it would be like as a shepherd being shocked by the angels, I’ve pondered the mother’s heart of Mary the ponder-er, I’ve even sung about being the non-existent drummer boy at the Baby Jesus’ cradle-side, but it took this year and Daniel Ray’s sermon to view myself as King Herod.
As Daniel recounted the various atrocities attributed to Herod by historians, I felt safely distant from him… but then when he boiled it all down to this list:
- Herod didn’t want to worship someone other than himself
- Herod didn’t want to play by anyone else’s rules
- Herod didn’t want anyone to take away his land, his kingdom
- Herod got angry when he didn’t get his way
… I had to admit there was a little King Herod in my heart. Or maybe a medium-sized one (I’m pretty short).
This, of course, is not a pleasant realization. Kinda dims the festive Christmas lighting and orchestral swells of glorious carols in the background. Thanks, Daniel.
That was the bad news, but there was good news to follow, of course. (We are called Church of the Redeemer after all.)
And, for me, the best good-news line in Daniel’s sermon was when he said something to this effect:
“You might say, ‘But I thought Christmas was supposed to be all “Peace on earth!” and “Joy to the world!”’
But, just because Jesus was born as a baby, it doesn’t mean everything is ok… yet.”
He reminded us that there is still conflict here on earth, there is still sadness, hurt, death. No, everything is not ok.
But those last three letters of the sentence are the very best part: Y-E-T.
Someday it WILL be ok, someday everything wrong will be made right.
So here we are this Christmas, once again, in the already-but-not-yet stage of history. We have the presence of the Spirit of Jesus, born on the long ago Christmas night, but we await His triumphal return. What do we do in the meantime??
Daniel had that question covered in the sermon today, too, through the example of Joseph. As detailed in the passage in Matthew 2, Joseph immediately and completely obeyed the Word of the Lord. True, this was because he had heard directly from God, via an angelic messenger, and we hope we, too, would have that same kind of response if we heard directly from God.
Oh, but wait, Daniel reminded us – we CAN hear directly from God! Each morning (or afternoon or evening), we can open up the Holy Scriptures given to us and hear directly from the very mouth of God, no messenger needed.
So while we wait in the darkness, with the great Hope within, let’s press on with passion to obey immediately and completely the Word of God, just as Joseph did.
Our Savior is great! Greater than any size Herod within us, greater than the darkness, greater than the brokenness. Praise Him, Emmanuel!
(And if you haven’t heard Daniel’s sermon yet, download it ASAP! I think you’ll be encouraged and challenged by it.)
Mrs. Amy Frank
*The views of guest bloggers do not necessarily reflect the official position of the pastors or the elected leadership of Church of the Redeemer of the Presbyterian Church in America. This is a form for the free expression of views and opinions of our members and others who are invited to write.
Here is Mr. Daniel Ray’s sermon, “An Unexpected Journey.”