Aloha Friday Message – January 6, 2017 – Showing Up

1701AFC010817 – Showing Up

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Matthew 2:2 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”

¡Que la bendición esté siempre con ustedes y que Dios los bendiga, Amados! (May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd!)

“80% of the job is showing up.”

That’s what we’ve told employees, musicians, teachers, students, and church-goes for years and years. We can’t get the job done, we can’t contribute, and we can’t get the benefits if we don’t show up. Why is that? Because that’s the way God intended it to be. “Oh come on!” you say, “God never said anything like that!” Well, there’s another expression that covers it. “What we do says who we are. Actions speak louder than words.” When God sends people, they show up. When God calls people, they show up. When God blesses people, they show up. When God saves people, they show up – forever! How do we know? We can look at the action God takes when he shows up.

God called Abram from Ur and sent him to Canaan. Abram showed up and became Abraham. God called Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They showed up, and Nebuchadnezzar got shown up. God called Elijah and he showed up; so did Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Joel, Samson, Samuel, Joshua, Moses, Mary and Joseph, Jesus, Peter and Andrew, Phillip and Nathanael, James and John, Paul and Silas and Timothy and Barnabas – they were all called, and they all showed up. They answered the call. And, Brothers and Sisters, did they ever answer the call!! This Sunday we will hear once again the Story of the Magi and the Epiphany of Jesus. The magi were called, and they showed up, too; it was quite a trip for them. Let’s see what we can learn about what God has in mind when he calls us to show up. One of the first things we see is that when we are called, we are sent. HUH?

When God calls us, he has expectations. He doesn’t call us to come and sit by him during lunch. He calls us to do something, usually something important, and he expects us to show up. Just like members of a band, or a team, or an army, there is a purpose to being called. We are called to ACT, to go and do something. We’ve heard this one: Don’t just stand there. DO something! In Ephesians 6, Paul tells us: “Don’t just do something. Stand there!” In this case the “something” we are to do is to “stand firm.” We must definitely show up to do that! God called the Magi, and they heeded the call. So who were they anyway?

The short answer: No one knows. We don’t even know how many showed up; we surmise there were three because there were “three gifts,” but that does not conclusively show us there were three persons. Tradition sometimes refers to them as the Three Kings, but there is no evidence that they were kings, either. The Magi were descendants of a sect in ancient Persia and Babylon. That sect was severely repressed by Cyrus the Great, the Persian king who is credited with ending the Babylonian Captivity. Their religion was very closely related to the ancient Zoroastrian Religion as described in the Avesta. The Magi are sometimes referred to as sorcerers, but in fact sorcery was strictly forbidden in their sect. They had an advanced and detailed knowledge of astrology and divination, but – despite the appearance of the name “MAGI,” they were not users of “magic.” It was through the use of astrology that they took note of the “star, rising in the east.” Did the star rise in the east, or were they in the east when they saw it? Again, we don’t know, but we do know that they were gentiles, i.e., not Jews because they did not say “Where is our newborn king?” They said, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews?” God’s plan, apparently, was to show the world from the earliest days in the life of Jesus that the Gentiles were also called to Salvation in the King of kings and Lord of lords. He was expected, but his arrival was not in an expected way. The World expected something showier, more grandiose – certainly not a squirming baby born to a poor, young couple from Northern Israel and birthed in a stable. And who was called first to adore him? Shepherds – the lowest of the low in that society.

Jesus&MagiThe arrival of the Magi is recounted only in the Gospel of Matthew. In our “Nativity Scenes,” we often have three sumptuously-dressed men who are obviously foreigners standing near the manger where the infant is “wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” Didn’t happen. Jesus was probably three or four years old when they showed up. The story in Matthew says, “and upon entering the house, ….” No stable, no manger, no shepherds, just Mary and the Baby in the house; Joseph was perhaps at work at the time. We don’t know why he isn’t mentioned. We do know that the Magi, “The Three Wise Men,” showed up when God expected them to show up, did what they were supposed to do, got out of town secretly because God called them to avoid Herod, and later – when Herod realized he’d been duped – he decided to wipe out all the toddlers in and around Bethlehem – the End of Innocents. In Jeremiah 31:15, Jeremiah prophesied those murderous events when the Innocents died to “protect” Herod’s throne. (See also Genesis 30:1)

But there is another idea to grasp here, something more than “showing up,” more like “showing out.” It is the word Epiphany. We use this word when we describe an instance where – without cause or warning – there is a sudden shift, a new paradigm, in understanding which often proceeds from something ordinary happening but which brings new insights. The coming of the Magi is referred to as “an epiphany.” This arises from a Greek word, epiphaneia. It is the sudden appearance of someone or something unexpected. We could think of the visit of the Magi as an epiphany, indeed the Feast of the Epiphany – January 6th, is a day celebrated by Christians around the world. In addition, there was an epiphany when Jesus was baptized by john – God showed us his Son with whom he was well-pleased. In a way, the Transfiguration was an epiphany because the Disciples present realized something about Jesus he had not told them and they had not seen previously. We have “epiphany moments” when suddenly we see or understand that something we took for ordinary is actually extraordinary.

And so it came to pass that the prophecy of Jeremiah had been fulfilled in the actions of Herod. The life of the child Jesus was spared because Herod could be reasonably certain he had “solved” his problem. All the pieces of all the prophecies about the Messiah would eventually fall into place until Jesus showed up for and endured his Passion, Death, and Resurrection. Every year, we will remember his Epiphany – the revelation to the world that Jesus is the human Son of God. In the Western churches, that would be the day the Magi (representing the gentiles) visited Jesus. In the Eastern Rite Churches, that would be the day John baptized Jesus in the Jordan at which time God proclaimed him to be his own Son. Whichever event you had in your heart and mind on January 6th, remember that the Messiah has been revealed to you in Scripture, and in your day-to-day life. You have the opportunity to reveal him to others in your own life. All you have to do is show up and tell them what you know; you can bring them an Epiphany. You can be the light that guides them. How? Show them the light that is in you, and ask them to show up for Jesus.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

PRAISE REPORT:

Thank you for your prayers for RC. He has “turned the corner,” and made progress toward recovery. Family and friends express their gratitude for your prayerful support. Please continue to remember AW, also making progress in his recovery. Please add JE who is dealing with another rampant infection and much pain along with it as well as KT who is hoping for a surgical intervention for her broken vertebrae, soon.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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