Behold, a child is with us. And when a child whose arrival means God is with us. A Child whose birth gives us hope. A Child whose birth gives us joy. And a Child whose birth fills us with apprehension: what will happen to this Child? The world is filled with fear and anxiety: What will happen to this Child.
But yet, God has given us this Child of our heart, this Child of our dreams.
This Child’s name, of course, is Jesus. But it is also Maven Grace, whose arrival assures us that God is with us. Whose baptism today gives us hope and joy. Whose uncertain future fills us with apprehension: what will happen to this child.
When the three Magi went looking for this Babe foretold by the stars, they were filled with the certainty that this Child would be extraordinary- the chosen Child of God. They brought exquisite gifts in anticipation- baby shower gifts raised to the 100th degree.
But when they went to King Herod in Jerusalem, they found a man who made them wary- a man who wanted too much to find the Child as well. They didn’t trust this king. And so when they finally found the Child and gave Him their gifts and their love, they went off in a different direction, to make sure that this untrustworthy king couldn’t come in their footsteps.
We who love our children understand all of this: the holiness of that moment when they first come into our arms; the joy and hope that their very existence brings. And the uncertainness, the apprehension, the anxiety: What will happen to this child in her life? What will she face? The future is fraught with Things That Could Happen, and we don’t want to think of them, but we can’t stop thinking of them.
When Jesus was born, Mary was told that He would be the salvation of the earth- and that His suffering would break her heart. That’s true for all of us, isn’t it? We want the best for our children; we want them to have it better than we did. And we never want them to suffer, as we have, for it will break our hearts. We will know their joy, but we will also experience their pain. But there is also one thing that we know will happen: that we will stick with them through thick and thin. That we will never let them go.
When Jesus was born, that was the promise that God gave: That God would always be with Him, no matter what. Remember that Jesus was also called Emmanuel, which means, ‘God is with us.’ That’s the promise, for Jesus, for us, and for our children: That God will always be with us. That God will never let us go.
And there will be times when our children will be exuberant and drive us crazy with their energy, mischief,
and sheer joy. And we will be with them.
And there will be times when they are betrayed, and sad, and hurt. And we will be with them.
And there will be times when their own demons whisper to them, “You are not worthy of love.”
And even then, especially then, we will be with them, as God is with us.
And we will never let them go.
In the Name of the One who will never let any of us go, even Jesus the Christ. Amen.
Matthew 2:1-12 –
Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea during the time when Herod was king. After Jesus was born, some wise men from the east came to Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the baby who was born to be the king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east. We came to worship him.”
When King Herod heard about this new king of the Jews, he was troubled. And all the people in Jerusalem were worried too. Herod called a meeting of all the leading priests and teachers of the law. He asked them where the Christ would be born. They answered, “In the town of Bethlehem in Judea. The prophet wrote about this in the Scriptures:‘ But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, you are important among the rulers of Judah.
A ruler will come from you. He will be like a shepherd for my people, the Israelites.’” (Micah 5:2)
Then Herod had a secret meeting with the wise men from the east. He learned from them the exact time they first saw the star. Then Herod sent the wise men to Bethlehem. He said to them, “Go and look carefully to find the child. When you find him, come tell me. Then I can go worship him too.”
The wise men heard the king and then left. They saw the same star they had seen in the east. It went before them until it stopped above the place where the child was. When the wise men saw the star, they were filled with joy. They went to the house where the child was and saw him with his mother, Mary. They bowed down and worshiped the child. They opened the gifts they brought for him. They gave him treasures of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But God warned the wise men in a dream not to go back to Herod. So they went home to their own country by a different way.