by Christopher Harbin

Before God and Everybody
Christopher B. Harbin
Psalm 72:8-17; Isaiah 60:1-3; Mt. 2:1-12; Ephesians 3:1-12

A levee collapsed in Nevada this weekend, flooding and killing and California. A stomach bug is spreading quickly around England. A slaughter in Kenya killed 30 believers attending church on New Year's Day. Assassination in Pakistan is creating chaos. Bad news travels quickly. It is not what we want to hear, yet we are seemingly drawn to bad news like flies to garbage. Where is the good news in all the reporting we hear? Will we take responsibility for sharing the best of news with a world longing for release from the despair of media headlines?

Seemingly, it was all a secret. Nobody seemed to know what had really happened in that Bethlehem stable. Well, a few were in on it, but the news did not make the front page headlines. After all, who would ever give the shepherds an ear? They were a no-account, motley crew, ritually impure, and didn't even make it to Sabbath celebrations at the synagogue. It is hard to picture Mary and Joseph proclaiming for all to hear that the new baby was God in the flesh. Who would have paid any attention to that?

No, the birth was a more hushed event. For Mary and Joseph, it was shrouded in shame, as it would be apparent that the child was born before their wedding. Luke writes of Jesus recognized by Simeon and Anna at the presentation in the Temple, but Matthew does not seem to have known that story. Maybe those who knew or thought they understood this baby to be Messiah just kept quiet for fear of Herod' or Rome's reaction. Whatever the reason, it was all seemingly hush hush.

Angels may have proclaimed the joyous news on the Judean hillside, but inside Jerusalem no celebration was to be found. God had become part and parcel of creation, taking the flesh of a newborn baby, yet no one seemed the wiser. It was the grandest secret, seemingly ignored by all.

Far, far away in a distant land, however, ...

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