We are fools for the sake of Christ (1 Cor 4:10)
This is one of my favourite bible verses as I have played the fool a number of times for Christ or otherwise. However, I am an particularly taken with this verse being an April Fool's baby being born on April 1st
you familiar with the Christmas song - It's the most wonderful time of the
year?That song came to mind when I was
thinking about what I would say this morning.Just to remind you, here are the words of the first verse:
It's the most wonderful time of the
With the kids jingle belling,
And everyone telling you,
"Be of good cheer,"
It's the most wonderful time of the year.
is not a carol – rather it is one of those secular Christmas songs which often
permeate the ether in the weeks leading up to Christmas – ones like White
Christmas and Sleigh Bells or Here Comes Santa Claus. I wince a bit when I hear many of these
because they represent the secularization of Christmas with its emphasis on
materialism and the commercialization which seems to be so prevalent at this wonderful
time of the year.
preparation for secular Christmas seems to start earlier and earlier each year
and Advent is almost unheard of outside the acknowledgement is some
churches. However, the sentiment in
that song resonates with me. Christmas
truly is – in many ways - the most wonderful time of the year. Now despite popular belief it is not the most
important time of the church year. That
is of course Easter with the passion, crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord
and Saviour. However, Christmas is a
truly wonderful time of the year.
we are celebrating Epiphany – that part of the Christmas story in which the
magi – the astrologers from the East follow the star and find the Christ Child
in the lowly manger in Bethlehem. They
bring their poignant gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the child whose
coming was foretold by the star in the heavens.
They observed the sign in the heavens and were wise enough to follow it. Have you ever wondered – or perhaps you know
why today is the feast of Epiphany and not the feast of the wise men or
Magi? Epiphany is a Greek word meaning "to
manifest," or “to make known.” The
birth of the Christ Child was made known to the magi and the world through the
star hence we celebrate the epiphany.
in this sense the whole of Christmas and not just this day could be named
epiphany. It is the epiphany for the
whole world. Not only that, the whole
Christmas story is about God revealing to himself to many different people in
find Christmas to be the most wonderful time of the year just for that
reason. God is made known to so many
people not just in the birth of the Christ Child but also in different messages. We have the star which gives a message to the
whole world that the Christ Child is born.
We have the angel visiting the shepherds with the message of the divine
birth. But it starts much before that
right at the beginning of the story. An
angel visits Mary and tells her the wonderful, terrifying news that despite
being a virgin she is going to bear the son of God. We have the angel visiting Joseph and telling
him not to put Mary away for she is blessed with that role.
another thing that makes Christmas wonderful for me is all the times God makes
manifest - reveals to people what is going to happen - in dreams. Have you ever noticed how many times
throughout the Christmas story that God speaks to people in dreams? The angel actually appears to Joseph in a
dream to tell him the news about Mary.
The wise men not only see the message in the heavens they also receive a
message from God in a dream to warn them not to return to Herod to give him the
news about the birth. Again they show
their wisdom by paying attention to the dream and returning home by another
then receives a dream advising him of the danger to the child from Herod who
wants to destroy any challenge from the new King of the Jews. Finally he tells Joseph in a dream that Herod
is dead and it is safe to return from Egypt.
is particularly wonderful for me because the Christmas story reminds us of the
importance of paying attention to the different ways in which God speaks to us
today. God speaks through scripture
which we hear when we come together in worship but also through ways which we
often don’t recognize. As we see from
the Christmas story and from many other stories in the bible people used to
recognize that God spoke to them in dreams.
Today dreams are what can be called God’s forgotten language. Our culture has forgotten to pay attention to
dreams and the messages that they have for us – messages that may reveal God’s
intention for us. We have forgotten the
language of dreams. God also speaks to
us in other ways which we have forgotten how to listen to in our world
today. We have the still small voice
within us which is drowned out by the noise all around us. We have the constant activity which does not
allow us to be still and know that God is God.
As it says in the psalms:
Be still, and know that
I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth.’
At this time of year when we have been so busy with Christmas
preparation and celebrations let us take time to be pause and be still. Let us listen and hear the different ways
that God is speaking to us just as he spoke to Mary and Joseph, the Shepherds
and the Wise men. Let us be still and
know that God is with us. … Amen
Joseph again puts
his brothers to the test. He has his
servants plant his cup in Benjamin’s belongings and then pursues and catches
them red handed with the proof of their apparent dishonesty. As a result of this the thing that the Jacob
and the brothers feared most comes to fruition.
Benjamin will be kept in Egypt as Joseph’s slave. Judah now steps up to the plate and pleads that
Benjamin be allowed to return home. If
he does not return with the brothers he is afraid that it will kill Jacob.
This action seems
unnecessarily cruel on the part of Joseph.
A kind-hearted reader might think that Joseph has put his brothers
through enough to pay them back for their treachery towards him. After all he is aware that they apparently were
actors in enabling God’s grand plan for Joseph and his chosen people to fulfill
the covenant he made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. However, this test was to determine once and
for all if his brothers had been transformed in the years since they betrayed
him. If Joseph had not gone through the transformative experience in Egypt it might have been reasonable to expect that at least a
small part of him would have been pleased to put his brothers through a bit
more torment as pay back. However, I believe
that Joseph, being the person he is now, had only pure motives in this act. Sometimes been soft-hearted is not what is
required. Sometimes we all need a bit of
iron in our souls to travel the journey that God calls us to.