Last weekend in the gospel we heard the story of the magi, who come “from the east” to pay homage to the newborn Christ child. They follow a star to the place of Jesus’ birth. What must the family of Jesus have thought about the arrival of these strangers from the East? The East meant Arabia, or modern day Iran or Iraq: these people were certainly not Jewish, and hence, they were unfamiliar and unknown. The story as told in Matthew’s gospel gives us a glimpse of how early Christianity eventually became accustomed to non-Jewish people – Gentiles – being drawn into the story of Jesus, and is a preview of the eventual universality of the faith as this new faith spreads throughout the known, and in time, the unknown world.
And the story also asks us how we welcome the stranger, or the “unknown” person, whether in our lives or in our culture. We’ve heard here about our parish’s welcoming of a refugee family from the Congo and our hosting of a homeless family over Christmas; all signs of a parish community that welcomes the stranger among us.
This weekend we hear the story of the baptism of Jesus and as we hear the story of his immersion into the waters, we are reminded that he is now immersed into human life and history, immersed within the both calm, and raging, waters of our story, truly God “with us.” Nothing human is distant from God, as the story of the Nativity tells us.
Finally, a quick note on something I am going to begin this month, an open “Fireside Chat with the Pastor” to be held in the gathering space, by the fireplace. This will be an informal opportunity to come and talk with me about whatever might be on your mind. Our Director of Stewardship, Deb Royals-Mizerk will also be there.Our first session will be Tuesday evening, January 22 at 6:45pm. No need to make an appointment or register.
Blessings on your week!