Thursday, November 07, 2013

The Challenge Continues, Day 305: Hosea 5-6; Psalm 100; Matthew 2

Faithful Love and Not Sacrifice
You day begins like most others, and then there is a knock on the door. Three men are standing there, with news. Someone has been born, of that they are sure. Someone great has entered the world. They have come, seeking. The only down side to this glorious news? It looks like the "great" in this new child is that this new soul in the world will be supplanting you. Everything you are, that you have, will soon be his. At least, that is what this all appears to herald. 

Herod the king has a tough, middle place to inhabit. He is required to give allegiance to Rome as an occupying power, and at the same time he is required to balance the customs and demands of his people and their God. Into this precarious tension three travelers stumble, telling of a celestial event that heralds the birth of a king. This tale is not entirely unique. Heracles, Julius and Augustus Caesar and Alexander the Great had births that were foretold. Herod would be smart enough to know that things don't really work out for the sitting incumbent when things like this happen. He has an idea that his days are numbered. What to do?

One would be tempted to say that he would make his peace. But Herod is a king, and one that is good at holding on to power in the middle ground on which so many others have stumbled and fallen. "Tell me where he is, when you find that I may honor him as well." Right...honor him with the sword.

When we get challenged, when supplantation threatens, how do we react? Do we see the turning of these tides as ways to hand opportunity and access to others? Do we reach for our swords? Do we take time to look around us, to seek and discern where God may be speaking to us, to what God might be leading us? 

It would be so easy to work with the power we know, the power we hold in this world. We can rely on what has worked so often in the past....or.....we can attempt something that takes us out of our routines and comfort zones and into another place, another way of being. 

Hosea's people were accustomed to making a sacrifice when things weren't right between them and God, to balancing the scales with the required actions. Problem is, those practices don't seem to work anymore. God desires faithful love in the face of sacrifice. But that means letting go of what we know.

The wise men went home by another way, guided by dreamsign. Joseph saved his family from slaughter by being willing to step out and away from the shelter of his hometown when danger threatened and God beckoned. The only one who doesn't step onto new ground when God beckons is Herod, and things don't work out so well for him.

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