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CONSIDER WELL

"Good people all, this Christmas time, Consider well and bear in mind What our good God has done, In sending His beloved Son." With those opening lines from the famous Wexford Carol, I invite us to pause on this epiphany day.  It is easy, right and proper to celebrate with great joy that God has come to us humans in a baby named Jesus.  On Epiphany Day (January 6th), a day of celebration of the Light of God coming to gentile non-believers, what God has done merits our full-throated joy in entering this new year of our Lord, 2014. But the Wexford Carol rightly invites us to do more.  It calls us to consider well the meaning, implications and consequences of God's actions.  In language that Dr. Stephen Seamands shared with Central Texas Clergy on our recently Clergy Day Apart, we are to consider well not only the what -- God coming to earth in the person of Jesus, but the so what -- that is, how does reality change for us and for "good people all" in considering well what God has done. It is so easy, too easy (!), to start the first full work week of the New Year trying to go back to "normal."  I readily confess that this is my natural instinct and constant tendency.  Yet rightly does the early Christian movement call our attention to the season and time of Epiphany. By tradition the wise men (Magi) arrived on January 6th.  (On the twelfth day of Christmas and all that.)  Consider well, who were the supposed wise men or Magi?  They were gentile unbelievers; probably followers of Zoroasterism.  Where did they come from?  Probably someplace in what is today Iran or Iraq.  What did they do?  They bowed in worship and, offering gifts, paid homage to the baby Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Whoa!  Run that line again!  "They bowed in worship and, offering gifts, paid homage to the baby Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords."  Matthew 2 is stunning in its affirmation of the baby Jesus as the true Lord and ruler over secular governments and politicians (Rome and Herod).  The passage challenges us not only to offer gifts but to give our ultimate allegiance to Jesus the Christ!  This strange triad from the east (or was it more than 3?) don't just invite; by their actions they demand that we give our full worship to Jesus and to none other.  This demand of full allegiance includes His obvious rule over secular authorities. It also involves reign and rule over my own preferences and pleasures.  All take a backseat to the rule and reign of Jesus, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Furthermore, the "so what" takes a giant leap in its inclusive conviction that all (even those I don't think are deserving) are offered life under Christ's Lordship.  Herod gets the what of Jesus; there is a new king in town threatening his rule.  Herod can't fathom the "so what;"  all are included and offered new life under Christ's reign and rule.   This is wrapped in the salvation package begun at Christmas and dimly recognized by the wise men of old.  It is still true today.  Offering my allegiance, I am given the gift of a new year of our Lord -- 2014!