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Wilderness to Water. Reflections regarding God's faithfulness, character, love, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. An examination of God's grace and power through meditative prose, poetry, original drawings and full-color photographs.

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 "And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them...the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people... Today in the town of David a savior has been born to you: he is Christ the Lord....You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger...... " (Luke 2: 8...12)

.....

Most of us are familiar, I think, with this part of the Christmas story, the shepherds in the fields and the birth of Jesus in a stable and laid in a manger. But there is another aspect of the account that is too often overlooked . It is a poignant and integral part of the story, but for some reason, ...sadly...it is neglected and (maybe nervously) brushed aside. Perhaps, this is because it does not satisfy our contemporary standards of sentimentality. Or, perhaps, there are other reasons.....

.....

According to the Gospel of Matthew, after the Christ child was delivered, we are told that wise men from the east (probably from the area today known as Iran and Iraq), following a strange light in the sky, came to Jerusalem seeking this one whom they understood was to be "born king of the Jews".

They had traveled hundreds of miles across the desert to worship him.

When the Magi arrived in Jerusalem, they asked where exactly the Jewish prophets had foretold that this Messiah, this 'Anointed One'....this King... was to be born. The Magi were told that according to the prophet Micah, The Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem (ie., "house of bread") of Judea
(Micah 5: 2).

And the wise men set out to find him there...

We are told that this news eventually made it to the ears of King Herod (whose name is derived from the Greek word 'herodeas' , meaning 'heroic hero'). 

Herod himself was not a Jew, but a gentile Edomite. King Herod was a Roman political appointee, and a pretender to the throne of Israel. His rule was illegitimate, and his heart was vile and wicked. Sometime after the wise men had left Judea, we are told that Herod "...gave orders to kill all the boys of Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and younger" so that he and he alone would remain Sovereign and the unchallenged "boss" in the realm.

"Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

"A voice was heard in Ramah.
Weeping and great mourning,
Rachel, weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more."

(Matthew 2: 17,18)

For proud King Herod, this Christ-child was nothing less than an existential, mortal threat....and, perhaps, therein lies a message for us all...

.....

Precious Gift for Man's Redeeming

 

Baby Jesus, help us know You
As Incarnate King of Kings,
Precious Gift for man's redeeming....
Resurrection Life You bring!

.....

There's a Herod dwelling in us,
A pretender to the throne.
"Hero" of our fallen nature...
Locked in darkness and alone.

Lord, this Herod dwelling in us
Still insists that he's The Boss.
He would stop You at the manger....
He would place You on the Cross.

He would cause the tears in Ramah
To retain his Prideful Place;
He would glorify himself, Lord...
And reject your Holy Grace.

.....

May the night or Rachel's mourning,
Lord, be greeted by the Son;
May your Spirit, Lord, break o'er us...
Dawn upon us, Holy One.

Help us join with angels singing,
May we bask here in his Light...
Thank You, Father, for this Mercy,
Come to us this Holy Night.

Help confront this Haunting Herod
By your Holy Spirit, Lord...
Slay the flesh with Truth and Mercy...
Use your Double-Edged Sword.

Lord, please help us quake like shepherds,
May we, too, like wise men bow...
May the Light of Revelation
Chase this darkness here and now.

May we also come to worship...
Gift atoning from above....
May we taste this Bread of Life, Lord,
Perfect sacrificial Love.

 .....

"[We have]...pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified Him 'meek and mild', and recommended Him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies."
--Dorothy Sayers

"The problem comes when we never get around to talking about the hard part of the good news...What's wrong with us required much more than a hug [consolation], it required a cross...We'd rather feel as if we're victims of a cruel world than admit we are contributers to the world's cruelty, lost sinners who perversely love our lostness, clinging to our treasured sins like a drowning man to an anvil."
--Frederica Mathewes-Green