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Posts Tagged ‘liturgy’

“Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

 A Lutheran living in Japan blogged about how Christmas is everywhere in non-Christian Japan just like here: in the stores, TV, music, etc.!  So much so that in Japan there is this joke:

Three salarymen (that’s Japanese English for a company employee) were walking home after their drinks at the bar. They passed by some people coming out of a church. One of the men quipped, “Look at that. They even celebrate Christmas at the church!”

In a related vein, when I was in Norfolk one of the Lutheran pastors was   part of a Lutheran World Federation delegation to Europe.  When in London, after the trip,  he told our pastors’ Bible study that  they were in a cab and going by the world renowned St. Paul’s Cathedral.  The hack gladly pointed out the Cathedral and said a few things about it and then concluded, “But you don’t want to stop there now, I think they are having a worship service.”

In some fashion that joke and anecdote underscore the true miracle of those thoroughly pagan Magi:  they actually worshiped the Christ!  Better than a lot of Christians who are worshiping their own religious feelings/spirituality/positive thinking and following their own heart which means finally worshiping themselves.  The magi  knew He is the King of the Jews and Kings are worthy of obeisance, that is worship.  They gave him gifts, not because they were kings but gifts worthy of a king.  In fact, the English word “worship” historically had as its first meaning:  to give honor to someone who “worthy” (that’s what the “wor” means;  so in England, it has been common to say of someone noble, “Your worship” with not a hint of idolatry!)  Since the magi were pagans, this meant they were idolaters;  but when they worshiped the Christ, they were worshiping truly.  So do we.  But it is finally not what we do in worship that matters but the Lord, even as an infant, gives to us freely:  the reign of the Lord in His grace and peace for sinners, Jew and Gentile.

The Magi first went to Jerusalem and did not bother to go to the Temple.  Where Christ is with His gifts, there is the true Temple of the Lord. From Luther’s Epiphany Sermon on this text:

“The wise men’s faith is…exceedingly beautiful in that …they are not offended because the King of the Jews passes by His temple and center of worship, and chooses the town of Bethlehem, where the inhabitants were simple peasants, hardly to be compared with the erudite bourgeoisie of Jerusalem…(the wise men) simply followed the Word and go to Bethlehem.”

Where His Word is preached purely and the Sacraments administered according to the Word, there is Christ with His gifts. “Nothing in my hand I bring, but simply to Thy Cross I cling”.  Amen.

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