doubting Thomas

Having attained the age of 73, I thought that I probably knew most of the lessons and information necessary to continue for another 20 or 30 years undeterred. Like the teenaged Larry from the 1960s there appeared to be nothing new under the sun to learn. I, now a mature, gray-bearded man, could settle into an attitude of old-age ‘know-it-all”.

WRONG!!

For example, a passage I read this morning inferred that the Christ child was a toddler playing on the floor of his parents’ home probably with a wooden toy which Joseph had made for him when the Kings from the East visited to pay homage bearing valuable gifts fit for a king. Wait a minute! A babe wrapped in swaddling clothes does not play on the floor with toys – not even Jesus.

What about the nighttime visit to the manger in the stable where Mary birthed the baby Jesus? Every depiction, every nativity scene, every song says that the Magi, aka the Three Wise men, knelt before the Christ child lying in swaddling clothes in a manger filled with animal bedding.

Oh no!! Is this a revisit to the picture hanging on my church wall which shows the young adult Jesus as a blue-eyed Caucasian with long-flowing hair? It took me several years and numerous books written by educated Bible scholars to accept that Jesus was born Jewish and therefore, as a young adult, looked much like the olive-skinned, brown-eyed, curly-haired men of today’s Middle East.

So, what have I learned? Blind faith has to be supported by historical fact and common sense. Of course God could have given Mary, a Jewish maiden and Joseph, a typical Jewish man, a blue-eyed, blond-haired, fair-skinned child if God wanted to do that…..but not likely. Furthermore, if the star appeared over Bethlehem at the birth of Jesus, these wise men from eastern kingdoms did not book passage of the next flight to Israel. They had to prepare for the overland trip, pack provisions, hire camels and a support team. Then the trip itself – it was not an overnight excursion. By the time they arrived in Bethlehem, Jesus was no longer a babe but could easily have been a little boy playing on the floor with toys. King Herod was obviously not a stupid man. In order to cover all his bases in eliminating the newly proclaimed king announced by the Magi, he ordered the slaughter of all Bethlehem’s children under the age of two because he knew the boy could have been born 2 years prior. MATTHEW 2:16

Thanks for bearing with me. This is just another take on the Christmas story from someone who has been labeled ‘doubting Thomas’ for good reasons.

Epiphany

EPIPHANY.  It’s dictionary definition is “a moment of profound insight.”  The Christian tradition celebrates this feast as the last of the 12 days of Christmas sometimes calling it Theophany or Three Kings Day.  It is the day when the Magi, having followed the star over Bethlehem, arrive to witness the arrival of God incarnate, Jesus, the Christ.

three kings day“We observed his star at its rising.”  Matthew 2:2

In the dialog presented by the author of Matthew, the birth of a peaceful Savior greatly disturbed King Herod and frightened all of Jerusalem with him (Matthew 2:3) leading the King to order the murder of all infants less than 2 years old.  The scriptures don’t tell us of what Herod and Jerusalem were afraid.  Competition?  Losing power? Change?

Even though Jesus has been with us for the past 2000 years, our world hasn’t changed, has it?  Those in power want to hang on to their power; they are afraid of change.  They are afraid of competition from a spiritual entity which could usurp through the sharing of a peaceful message the materialistic and egotistic power which they wield.  Jesus had an uphill battle from his birth to bring God’s message of peaceful existence to a corrupt and heartless humanity.  That humanity crucified Jesus in hopes of neutralizing a lifestyle totally contrary to the ways of greed and degradation which the world loved and pursued.  But, they failed to realize that the God-spark, that divine DNA within each of us, cannot be quashed.  It cannot be denied its rightful place as heir to our divine nature.  Jesus’ spirit lives on forever having been victorious over physical death and human depravity.  He reigns!

That star over Bethlehem typifies the light of Christ.  The book of Matthew tells us that the star drew the Magi from distant lands with earthly gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh, but they then bowed in spiritual reverence at the cradle of a Savior, a messenger of peace.

Happy Three Kings Day.  The light of Christ continues to shine independent of one’s religious tradition or lack thereof.  It is the light which overcomes our fears, which relieves our anxieties, which blazes on eternally to remind us that who we are in Christ CANDLEshould be the brightest star in our personal universes.  It is God’s light which shines into the deepest recesses of our fears bringing, through Jesus, a reign of inner peace and serenity.  It is truly an epiphany worthy of celebration.

Lord, let it soak in, let that light enter all my fearful spaces and create from my spark of divine DNA a beacon of comfort to mankind.  Amen

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ.”  Philippians 4:7namaste rainbow