Weekly thoughts from the Rector of Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, where these words remind us that Jesus’ peace goes with us into the world.
This past Friday, January 6, was the Feast of the Epiphany. It’s the day when we read in Matthew’s Gospel about the visit of the Magi, strangers from the East, to worship the young child Jesus. Arriving with “gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh,” they provide an exciting and exotic ending for the whole story of Christmas. Here’s what preaching scholar David Lose says about all of that:
[T]he presence of these three magi and their quest for God’s messiah announce that the world is changing, that God is approaching, and that nothing can remain the same in the presence of God’s messiah. The arrival of these wondering astrologers signals that the reach of God’s embrace is broadening considerably, that there is no longer “insider” and “outsider,” but that all are included in God’s plan for salvation. . . .
Whatever its various and sundry causes, fear is a powerful thing. In response to their fear, Herod, along with the chief priests and scribes, conspire to find the messiah and kill him. They will not succeed this time, but much later in the story there will again be an unholy alliance between the political and religious leaders of the day who will not only conspire against Jesus but this time capture and crucify him.
And what about us? What does fear do to us? Do we install more security systems in our homes and cars? Do we build more gates or buy more guns? Do we save even more for retirement, pulling back from charitable contributions to make sure we have enough? Do we close our hearts – and minds – to those who are different? What?
The world of fear that surrounds us today is the very world into which Jesus was born. Your presence in our community of faith, reflecting the love of Jesus, is a powerful reminder that we do not have to stand in the midst of our fears alone.
— The Rev. Neil Alan Willard, Rector