Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Year B Epiphany 4: Text Mark 1:21-28 – True Authority

Sermon 28th January 2018
Epiphany 4 – Text Mark 1:21-28 – True Authority

American Artist Andy Warhol once said: "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes",
It’s where we get the saying “15 minutes of fame”.
Today it seems that fame is not that uncommon with Social Media enabling people to post videos and pictures of themselves to be seen around the world by anyone.
You may have seen a person recently at the Australian Open Tennis who got his 15 minutes of fame by interrupting the match by screaming during one of the televised matches.
It is not uncommon for a person to film themselves doing something completely idiotic and irresponsible and have it viewed thousand, tens of thousands or even over a million times on YouTube.
And these days with Reality TV we make famous household names of previous nobodies by putting them in a kitchen, or on a dating show or renovating a home.
And when we have an issue in society it seems that sporting figures and TV celebrities (and I use that term very loosely) become the voices of authority whether or not they have any expertise in that area.

In recent times when we have wanted voices of authority on issues like Same Sex Marriage, Euthanasia, Australia becoming a republic, changing Australia Day and the flag, we have drawn comment not from experts but from sporting stars, musicians, actors and treated them as authoritative words.
But what we also found in those times of debate is that when the church spoke it was rejected and had its authority questioned.
That is so different to the experience of Jesus today who goes and teaches in the synagogue.
They were astounded at Jesus teaching, for he taught them as one having authority.
But, we aren’t told what he taught so we can’t use his teaching to work out that authority.
So it’s not so much about WHAT he taught but HOW he taught that becomes the focus.
And maybe that is a lesson that the Church can take away from this.
Jesus’ authority is then carried through to the next example in that Gospel reading.

There was in the synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.”
How did he know Jesus’ identity?
Jesus hasn’t spoken a word to evoke the man’s response.
But it is Jesus’ presence that does so.
It is not WHAT Jesus said to this unclean spirit that brought about the outburst and acknowledgment of Jesus’ authority but his mere presence.
Perhaps we can learn from this that the church’s strength and authority lies not in what it says but by her presence in the world and how she presents God’s presence in the world.
If you read our foundation document in the Lutheran Church, the Augsburg Confession you will see that most of our statements of faith begin with the statement “It is taught among us” and then goes on to what we teach and believe.
Too often in trying to reach out to the world we have tried to make ourselves more accepted by the world by incorporating the world’s teaching into our teaching to see how we can assimilate.
But when we do that we no longer know what it is that we believe and teach.
And what often happens is that we lose the world because we find that we lose what we teach and believe.
And we end up at odds with the world and rejected.
We lose our identity and authority.
Paul, in our 2nd reading points us in a different direction when it comes to what we teach and believe.
He says: Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.
Like our Gospel reading, Paul is pointing more to the presence of God through love than prescribing an actual teaching to proclaim.
And further he says: Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him.
There’s our knowledge – God’s knowledge of us.
We have the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Again Paul is pointing to our love of God being lived out in the world rather than giving us an instruction on what we are to teach.
That’s not saying that we don’t have something to teach the world but our love of God and neighbour is the foundation of what we have to say.
As Paul will go on to say in Chapter 13 - If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If we start with the foundation of loving God, loving our neighbour, and loving one another as Christ loves us, then our teaching will emanate into the world from that.
Jesus will give that commandment before his death when he gives his disciples a New Commandment
He says: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
What we believe is important as Paul says to a young Pastor Timothy: Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
But as we see time and again, it’s the presence of God that brings about change in the world.
And that is what we are and what we are called to be – we are the presence of God in the world.
There are so many examples of this change in the Gospels.
Consider another demon possessed man – Legion.
When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?”
It was by Jesus mere presence from a distance even that this man responds.
When Jesus blesses Peter’s work while fishing he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken.
It was not from what Jesus said but from what Jesus did for them out of his compassion for them.
And we have the example of Zacchaeus who turns his life around just by Jesus being present at his dinner table.
In none of those cases had Jesus pointed out their sin.
Their own conscience in the presence of a loving Jesus brought that out – and that’s when the teaching begins.
What we believe is important as St Paul warns Timothy:
The time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear
But how we teach – with love – is essential for the world to listen.
If I speak without love I am a clanging symbol – just making noise.
And when we need to speak out – and there will be times - Paul says:
Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, Christ Jesus.
The church certainly lacks authority in the world today but that doesn’t mean we don’t have authority.
As Jesus reminded his disciples before he ascended to heaven:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
Again, the emphasis is on going out into the world – making disciples and then teaching the world.
The more I look at Jesus’ examples of authority the more I see that it’s not about what I say but what I do.
When he sent his apostles out into the world he said:
As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
There’s our authority that no one can take away from us.
There will be times when we need to speak a word to the world and that’s when the same Holy Spirit will do his work and we are to trust that word and not our own.
As Jesus says: don't worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

And that’s a word that no one can take away from you.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Year B Epiphany 3 - Text Jonah 3:1-5 - Our merciful God

Sermon 21st January 2018

Today’s Old Testament reading only gives us part of the story of Jonah’s call.
If we didn’t know the whole story of Jonah we might believe that Jonah is an exemplary servant of God who responds instantly to God’s call like Andrew, Peter, James and John in our Gospel reading.
God gave Jonah instructions to go preach to the people of Nineveh and we read, “So, Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh.”
But what we must remember is that this was the second time God called Jonah.
The first time Jonah heard God’s call he resisted and fled by boat in the opposite direction.
Nineveh was an evil city as we hear in call of Jonah:
“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.
No wonder Jonah was hesitant.
When Jonah resisted that first call, God caused a storm that terrified the sailors on the boat Jonah fled on.
Wanting to appease God they threw Jonah into the sea, where he was swallowed by a large fish and, after three days, the fish spat him out on the shore near Nineveh.
There was no escaping God’s call
Now Jonah responds to God’s call to destroy the city.
If Jonah wanted Nineveh to be destroyed then why didn’t he go the first time to Nineveh when God sent him?
Hearing Jonah’s message, the king, and then all the people and animals repented.
As a result of their repentance God spared them.
Jonah became very upset by God’s mercy towards his enemies.
And by this we discover why Jonah fled from God’s first call.
Not because he was frightened of Nineveh’s evil but because of God’s mercy that Jonah feared God would show them.
He tells God, “I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, rich in mercy, and abounding in love” (4:2).
That’s our God!
Jonah knew his God well and realized that God used him as an instrument of forgiveness and mercy rather than destruction.
Jonah went to great lengths to resist God’s first call and then expressed frustration with God when the Ninevites heard Jonah’s preaching and repented.
What I find interesting in Jonah’s call is that he didn’t want to be God’s voice of forgiveness.
But God used him anyway.
Maybe, in Jonah, we might see a reflection of ourselves.
Maybe there is someone we know who needs to hear a word from God but we don’t want to do it.
We can tend to classify certain individuals, or types of people, as outside God’s loving embrace.
We can’t imagine God loving them with their ungodly ways. 
What have they done to deserve God’s mercy?
Nothing, but God offers it to them anyway.
If we ever begin to think that way let us remember what St Paul says about us:
God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
For some reason that we may not know – that only God knows why - we might be the very ones God needs to reach out to a person.
Jonah’s story shows to what lengths God will go to welcome home the sinner and outsider.
We need to put aside our negative feelings for them and make the journey Jonah did to be God’s messengers of peace to them.
The message of Jonah is a message of God’s true work coming through repentance.
First of all there is the repentance of Jonah.
Even though Jonah disobeyed God and went in the opposite direction – God chased him down.
It’s interesting that the opening of the book of Jonah says that Jonah arose to flee from the presence of the Lord.
While he might have fled from God’s presence, God’s presence never flees from us as Jesus promised – I am with you always.
That’s the first message we take from Jonah.
That even when we go in the complete opposite direction to God’s will for us – God is there on our heels working to turn us back to him through repentance.
You cannot go too far away from God that he is not there with you.
A good thing to remember when we are concerned about others who have seemingly departed from God’s presence.
So the 2nd lesson we learn from Jonah is from Nineveh.
We learn that no one is “unsaveable”.
The Ninevites were evil personified.
They were Assyrians and responsible for great atrocities to God’s people.
Nineveh today is known as Mosul – it used to be the headquarters of Islamic State when they were causing so much death and destruction around the world through terrorism.
Why would God want to help them?
To believe that God would want them to repent and be saved would be repugnant to so many people today.
Just read the Letters to the Editor today about what people want to happen to those who drive their cars into innocent pedestrians – to Africans gangs causing so much terror in our suburbs – to those who harm children – to suggest that God wants us to go to them and show mercy and to save their souls would have a far greater outcry than that of Jonah.
But that is the nature of God - merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding with unfailing love (Jonah 4:2).
Unlike Jonah, who responded to God’s call reluctantly, the first disciples accepted Jesus’ invitation to follow him immediately.
Andrew, Peter, James and John left their nets and followed him immediately.
Before he invites his new followers, Jesus proclaims, “The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent and believe the gospel.”
That is how we too should respond when God calls - immediately.
St Paul tells us why:
He says - the appointed time has grown short;
Even though it’s been around 2,000 years since Jesus promised to return – each day we put off what God has called us to do is one less day we have available.
And none of us know just how many days a person has left to hear the message of God for their salvation.
The 3rd repentance is probably the most difficult to understand.
The bible reading says that God also repented from the destruction he was going to send:
God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.
In John 3:17 we hear what the mission of God is:
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Sometimes we believe that that mission is only to us.
That the call to repentance is only for us to keep our relationship going with God.
But through Jonah God teaches us that his concern is for the entire world including the ungodly that we would rather see destroyed than saved.
In fact St Paul was so anguished about the state of his people who were unbelievers that he was happy to forgo his own salvation if it meant they could be saved.
In Romans 9 he said: I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people.
What Paul is exampling here is the love of God the Father who allowed his own Son to die so that we would not perish in eternal death.
That should be our motivation also.
If we don’t care what happens to someone’s eternal salvation then we really haven’t understood God’s mission to the world.
God was not prepared to have anyone perish so he allowed his own Son to be sacrificed.
Despite Nineveh’s wickedness God was prepared to change his mind in destroying them and forgave their wickedness when they repented.
Do we have the same heart as God or do we still show the same lack of care for fellow human beings.
Jonah was more concerned about a shrub he was sleeping under that died than the thousands who were going to perish in Nineveh without God’s mercy.
The Lord said, “You feel sorry about the plant. But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”
We might disagree with people’s way of life.
We might abhor the behaviour of certain people or groups of people.
We may have been personally affected by a person’s actions.
But regardless of our personal experience our call from God is to forgive and help them to know God’s forgiveness.
And the best way for a person to know God’s forgiveness is by living lives of forgiveness ourselves.
And that’s where Jonah went wrong.
He didn’t want forgiveness for Nineveh but God did.
And the amazing thing about God is that he still used Jonah.
Because he was just a concerned about Jonah’s spiritual welfare.
God’s love never gives up on anyone, no matter how evil or how ungodly they are.
He is always working to bring repentance so he can bring them eternal life as St Peter says:
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
May God grant you the same patience and desire for all people.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Year B - Epiphany 2 - Text: 1 Samuel 3:1-10 – Speak Lord your servant is listening

Sermon 14th January 2018 Epiphany 2
Text: 1 Samuel 3:1-10 – Speak Lord your servant is listening

We often hear comments that we live in godless times.
We have this image that our country was once considered a Christian country but we are slowly watching the census figures heading to below 50% of the population.
But as we look at our Old Testament reading we find that periods of darkness in relation to God’s presence are not new.
We read in Samuel: The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.
There are periods where God seems to be absent but when we read further in Samuel we read “the lamp of God had not yet gone out”.
We might think at times that our world has become Godless but that is impossible.
As we confess in our creed: I believe in God the Father Almighty – creator of heaven and earth.
God is the creator and sustainer of all that exists.
And he promises through Jesus – I am with you always till the end of the age.
In John’s Gospel we read that it is not an absence of God but a lack of our recognition of God:
John says: the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, but the world did not know Him. He came to His own, but His own did not receive Him.
In Samuel we see that God is indeed active in communicating with them but they do not understand his communication:
God had called to Samuel 3 times but he didn’t understand who it was that was calling him, as the reading says: Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.
In our world today it also seems that God’s Word is rare.
But is that because God is silent or because we are not listening to God?
What is going on in our world around us causes many to live in fear.
Many fear what the future may bring us.
Events happening at present makes us feel insecure.
One minute everything seems fine.
The next minute, it all looks threatening and scary.
We long for a safe and secure place in our lives.
And much of this is happening because people have turned their backs on God.
What's striking about Samuel's experience of God's call is that it is so ordinary.
There is no burning bush, as in the call of Moses;
There are no  angels and burning coals, as in the call of Isaiah.
There is just the quiet voice of God to a young boy that God has a special purpose for.
But Samuel is unable to sort out his call on his own;
He needs the help of someone else, in this case, Eli.
And that’s the connecting point in our 2 readings – The call of Samuel and the call of the first disciples.
In both cases there was someone there to help another person hear God’s call to them and understand it.
For Nathanael it was Phillip.
For Samuel it was Eli.
In both cases God is actively calling but it is a 3rd person that sees the call and encourages – Phillip and Eli.
God is always calling people and we need to be observant to see how God is working in people’s lives and point out to them where we believe God is calling them.
Many Pastors are serving God today because someone saw something in them that they may not have seen themselves.
Many are serving in leadership positions in the church not because they put up their hand and said “I want to do this” but because someone gently tapped them on the shoulder and said – I think you’d be a good at this.
So there is just as much importance not just in the call – and the person being called – but in us seeing how God is calling someone and helping a person to discern that call.
But it’s not just in the church where we can help people to discern the call of God;
Perhaps you’ve seen a friend or a neighbour who does not yet know about God.
Maybe the Word of God is rare in their life at present but the flame has not gone out.
Maybe they are searching for something but they don’t know what it is that they are searching for.
As Matthew says in his Gospel regarding Jesus call: A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out.
So a really important role that we can play in a person’s life is helping them to see where God may be reaching out to them.
Nathanael would not have thought of himself following Jesus of Nazareth.
He was very sceptical - Can anything good come out of Nazareth?
But Phillip encouraged him with very simple words:
“Come and see.”
Such simple words but such powerful outcomes can be achieved.
When we have a personal relationship with Jesus in our lives they should be the only words we need to speak.
Come and see.
Come and see what a difference Jesus has made in my life.
So there is also a responsibility on us to show the difference that Jesus has made in our lives.
Both in our lives and in the church.
As Paul said; your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.
If our lives are filled with anger or jealousy or anything else that might be a negative witness to Jesus.
Or if our churches are filled with gossip or bickering or lack of joy or anything that might be a negative witness to Jesus then there’s no point saying “come and see” because they won’t see anything different to what they’re seeing in the world.
When we look at how calls work in Scripture there are some identifying features.
God calls by name: He did so to Mary, to Peter, to Nathaniel, to Matthew.
In the Old Testament he did it to Samuel, to Moses, to Adam.
God will probably call when you least expect it, at the least opportune time, in some unlikely situation like Peter in the midst of his fishing vocation – come and follow me and I will make you fisher of men.
Peter immediately dropped his nets and followed Jesus’ call.
God may have to call you more than once before God gets your attention as he did to Samuel and Jonah. 
God had to call Samuel three times before he started listening. 
God had to call Jonah again when he disobeyed the first call and went the opposite direction.
There are so many other voices speaking to us, we usually need our name to be called a number of times before it finally sinks in.
And no-one is too insignificant, too small, too inexperienced, too unimportant not to be called by God. 
Jeremiah thought he was too young - But the LORD said to him, "Do not say, 'I am too young.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.
Peter and Paul thought they were too sinful:
Peter fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!"
When Paul spoke about the called apostles he said: Jesus appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
And we should never underestimate whom God may call:
The disciples couldn’t understand God’s call to Paul - Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to arrest  all who call on Your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is my chosen servant to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
And that is the most difficult call to understand when God calls us to a life of suffering as a witness to our continued faith in him.
I don't know what God is calling you personally to do...
But as the church, as God’s community of faith, we are all called to encourage one another in our calling.
To keep our lines of communication with God open through fellowship , through prayer and worship, through sharing together in the sacraments where God constantly calls us. 
The question is - are you open to hear that call and are you willing to respond as Samuel did: 
"Speak, Lord, your servant is listening"

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Year B - Epiphany - Text Matthew 2:1-12 - Finding Jesus

Sermon 7th January 2018 – Epiphany
Text: Matthew 2:1-12 – Finding Jesus

Christmas is well and truly over for most people.
Most have taken down their Christmas trees and are finishing off leftover ham and mince pies.
(Ringwood) Our Christmas Tree is still up as officially Christmas season continues till Epiphany, January 6th, the original date of Christmas until the 4th Century.
Many have returned to work.
A final party on New Year's Eve was probably a good way to officially end Christmas as well as 2017.
Christmas Cards have slowed down to be replaced by credit card bills as a last reminder of the Christmas Spirit.
Christmas started early – around October / November in the supermarkets who are already preparing us for Easter with Hot Cross Buns
But Christmas comes to a much quicker end than how it begins.
There were the parties and the Christmas lunches and dinners galore – and now the advertising by gyms have started to get that Christmas body back into shape.
For most people, the Christmas season starts well before Christmas, but it ends before the Christmas season is officially over.
But for the Church, Christmas ends today at Epiphany, which marks the visit of the Magi - the Wise Men - to Bethlehem to see the new born King of the Jews - Jesus.
Tradition tells us there were three of them but the Bible never mentions a number.
Matthew's Magi might have been astrologers the same word that forms the word Magician.
Some scholars believe the Magi were from different lands, representing the whole world bowing before Jesus.
Whoever they were, they recognised Jesus as the Messiah when most of God's chosen people in Israel failed to recognise him.
The Magi are also part of Old Testament prophecy pointing to Jesus.
The Old Testament prophesied that "a star shall advance from Jacob" (Numbers 24:17 which is the tribe of Jesus’ ancestry.
The Scriptures even spoke of the wise men coming to bring gifts:
Isaiah 60:6 - And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the LORD.
Psalm 72:10: The kings of Tarshish and of the isles Will bring presents; The kings of Sheba and Seba Will offer gifts.
Herod was frightened when he heard about this new born King of the Jews because he felt his position as the “King of the Jews” was threatened and  he hurried to consult with the chief priests and scribes about what the Scriptures said about a King being born.
So Herod had the right idea consulting Scripture – but the wrong solution to deal with his fear.
He resembles a frightened Pharaoh who dealt with the threat of Israel’s ever increasing number by ordering the death of baby boys being born at the time of Moses.
Herod will use the same tactic to deal with his fear by ordering all boys aged 2 years and under to be put to death.
But the Magi weren't afraid of Herod and the threat he posed.
They went on their way regardless of the danger because reaching Jesus was more important to them than anything else, and they were prepared to take any risks to find him.
When they found him they worshipped him, and presented their gifts to him.
The gifts were highly symbolic. Gold was a gift for a king, incense was a priestly gift used in worship as it is used today in many churches, and myrrh was a spice used in burials.
So all three of the gifts foreshadowed both Jesus' life as prophet, priest and king, but more importantly his death.
After finding the Saviour they were seeking, the Magi were warned by God to return to their own land by a different way rather than through Jerusalem as they had intended.
Still today, following Jesus can mean taking risks in life with rejection and ridicule even by those very close to us.
 It may mean sacrifice in following his call.
Life may take us on a different direction as we respond to God's call.
So as we move away from Christmas and into this New Year, the message of Epiphany presents  a challenge - are you willing to listen to Jesus even if it means risk – even if it means struggle and being led in a different way, like the wise men?
Epiphany asks us whether we are looking for the signs that are leading to Jesus as the wise men were?
Are you looking in your bibles to read what God’s Word says about Jesus in the same way that Herod did – albeit for the wrong reasons?
Is your relationship with Jesus one where worship is the most central and important thing as it was for the wise men when they fell down and worshipped Jesus even though it was against Herod’s wishes.
And are you prepared to listen to Jesus even if it means a change in direction in your life.
The easy way for the wise men was to go back the way they came and report to Herod.
But they listened to God’s messenger and took a new route home disobeying Herod’s command to report back to him.
Sometimes in following Jesus’ call we will be called to go against what others are calling us to do, like Herod and the Magi.
And that’s the question put to us too – are we listening to God’s messengers or taking the safe easy way?
It’s interesting to note that as the wise men followed the bright star it only took them part of the way to finding Jesus by their own efforts.
They had to then refer to God’s Word to find fullness in their search for him.
Likewise as we follow our dreams they will take us only so far in life.
Our careers, our possession, everything in life will not lead us to fulfilment.
Only as we have Christ in our lives will we find that true fulfilment and contentment in life.
And what we learn from the wise men in our Gospel is that we are led to Christ by his Word which is where they discovered the rest of the way.
And despite the expensive gifts that they brought to Jesus their true treasure was discovered in their worship as they fell down on their knees and worshipped Jesus.
And that is where we too will find true meaning and fulfilment in our life and in our relationship with God as we search his Word and as we encounter God in worship as we gather around Jesus Body and Blood in the Lord’s Supper.
The world tempts us to follow a different path to fulfilment – a path of success and self-satisfaction.
But God is leading us in a different direction that gathers to worship his Son who gives us true success and true self-satisfaction in life.
The wise men are always a cute addition to the nativity at Christmas time but their appearance is much deeper.
It reveals humankind’s search for meaning which can only be found in God’s Word – which we also know Jesus to be God’s Word made flesh.
It reveals that our relationship with God is one that is centralised in worship – which is also what John discovers when he writes the Book of Revelation and that life in heaven was a life of Worshipping Jesus.
The wise men also reveal that when one has an encounter with Jesus, God may send them on a path they don’t expect to take.
Maybe God is challenging you but you’re afraid or apprehensive.
And that’s okay too because sometimes in our flight from danger God leads us to new opportunities too.
It was the persecution of Christians who fled to new lands for their safety that led the first Christians to take the Gospel to new lands.
It was fear of Herod that led Mary and Joseph to take Jesus to Egypt, fulfilling yet another Old Testament prophecy - and so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son." (Matthew 2:15 and Hosea 11:1).
So keep following Jesus even if it might seem unclear where God is leading you because we know that God is always leading us where he knows we should go