|The important people Christmas|
Mat 2:1-2 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 homage to Him.
Mat 2:3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him.
The picture of the first Christmas was very different from the commercialised and religious glitter and business of the Christian Seasons. The constant sounds of the Christmas carols in the shoping centres do good in bringing the Christmas message to the masses even in Malaysia and Singapore as we rush to have year end dinners, buy presents and do holidays.
Where were the important people asked the naked pastor obviously hinting that the people we consider "shit" and unimportant were the ones who attended the first Christ - in what he labels as "Foreigners", "Animals", "Unclean", "Nobody".
"Where were the important people" asked the nakedpastor suggesting that the rich, powerful, and religious people recognized in society as having a much higher stature were not there. There is much truth in the picture pertaining to the 21st century American life. However, the first Christmas was markedly different:-
a) The Foreigners - whilst the 21st century western picture of the foreigner being foereign workers doing low end menial jobs to make a living and escape from even worst poverty in their home countries, the foreigners in the bible were very different.
The Foreigners were religious people of faith who were experts in the ancient religious text and possibly from Arabia/Iran. They were called the three kings, the wse men of which they were and more learned in the ancient religious text including the Jewish torah. Hence, when the sign of the star appeared in the sky, they were quick to relate to the Jewish text and found their way 2,000 km to Jerusalem.
They were not looking for work or wealth in a foreign land and modern day "foreign talents", but recognized their spiritual lack. They came from afar to seek Jesus, the Son of God as prophesised by Isaiah. Their heart were for the presence and move of God. They wanted to see Jesus.
b) The Sheperds - whilsts the perception of them as unclean representing the lower classes of society may be true, they were not "dirty" religiously. They were cleansed just as everyone in the Jewish faith by the temple sacrifices of their gentle lambs.
Rather than being "dirty" hence disqualified from the company of the upper classes, the sheperds had a unique and simple faith to believe. Their lives were not clustered with material belogings, power, and wealth. They had nothing much except for a few gentle lambs and their lives spent not in indulgence but in the country side where they would have time to reflect on the beauty of creation, and the serenity and peace of life rather than filled with acitivities.
Why did they come along to find Jesus? because they recognized that something special was about to take place and they simply believed without asking to many questions or reflective theology. They had a simple faith to believe, had nothing to loose, and had not much religion in their spirit and soul to say otherwise.
The angels had appeared to the sheperds because they had nothing to boast about. If they were to appear to the religous, they would have boasted that the angels chose them because of their righteousness hence taking away the glory from God.
c) Joseph and Mary were not "nobodies". They had no great physical belogings but were people of incredible simplicity, faith and trust in God and not in themselves and their own works and righteousness. And Joseph was also not a "nobody" for his family ties linked him back directly as a descendent of David thus fulfilling the prophecy.
The religious and the powerful had a outward appearance of faith and public apperance of doing good deeds to the poor, but when it comes to the crunch, they were empty.
If Joseph was a religious zealot of whom we have many in Singapore and Malaysia, he would have immediately disowned Mary and may have even killed her as a punishment for her infidelity. He had to believe in the miracle child as well.
If Mary was a religious zealot, she would have rejected the child and even worst, abort it, in fear of the dire consequences and the negative perception. She had a lot to loose. She had a simple faith and trust in God and chosen before the many more pious. It was not about her rights, but God's will be done. The decision was made for Mary to have the baby Jesus without her consent, yet she accepted it willingly her lot.
d) The Animals - they were invited to attend Jesus' birth by following the Shepherd grateful that Jesus will be taking their place and they need not be sacrificed in the future. They had hitherto represented Jesus, the innocent suffering lamb of God.
e) The Important people - when the three kings came, the rumour of the Messiah spread especially with the apperance of the shining star. There was fear of judgement for the masses who chose to ignore the news and concentrate instead on the massive movement of people as a result of the census. There was fear of the lost of power for Herod who took the coming of the three kings very seriously. Hence, the important people stayed well behind in the hotel of the barn where Jesus was born.
The important people, the powerful, the wealthy, and the people of faith all had something to loose by the coming of Jesus Christ. Their wealth and power was already secured, the religious and social framework and hierachy which maintained their power and religious status was assured. They had too much of their self to loose despite the fact that they had the scriptures and the proclaimation of the good news by the three kings. Hence, the birth of Jesus, the greatest event in man kind was effectively ignored. They were frigtened at the posibility of the event and stayed away.
The picture of the first Christmas was about a group of people who had sought after God not after a form of religion or false sense of godliness, but with sincerity and humility. They found Jesus because they had yearned for the Messiah - to worship, to honour, and to give thanks.
The first Chritmas is not about ministering to people considered not important in society but about the people and animals who chose to come to Jesus, their incredible lack allowing them to give time and hope to attend the first Christmas.
The story of the first Christmas is repeated over and over again in the loud sounding Christmas carols in the shopping malls, repeating for over a month, the birth of Jesus Christ. But will the masses listen and accept Him as the Lord and Saviour of the lives and bow down lowly before the gentle babe of Christ.
The most important people of Christmas may not be found in the crowds and shopping frenzy of Christmas but in the small community of Christian faith that has so much lack such as the GLBT community who has no reason to celebrate a Christianity who has been persecuting them, yet they chose to believe in that gentle babe of Christ. He smiled at them, and they smiled back, for Christ gave them hope, peace and joy above the condeming, self righteous religious zealots who could not be found when Christ was born because they could not see God.
It was the people who had no status and no hope that at the end was able to see God when they had stepped out in faith, hope and despair. The three kings needed to travel 2000 km, but the sheperds needed to travel tens of km, for God is so near to the least yet we often fail to recognise Him.
When Jesus comes back again in the future, will we join in the celebration or will there be fear and panic of the important people. The most important people may be the least important people in society eg the GLBT tribe.