We tend to see freedom as freedom from authority and other people. Freedom, according to the biblical narrative, is the freedom to serve the right person.
So, this God of ours who has come in human form is known first as Emmanuel and second as an immigrant, as a refugee. Jesus knows specifically the experience of the displaced and the disadvantaged, because he lived it and stands with all who continue to do so. He has a heart for those babies whose fathers were not fortunate enough to hear the call of danger in the night. How will we meet the needs of the world? With a God who knows through experience what it’s like to be human.
The mystery revealed to Paul in Jesus is that all the ways we have decided how people fit and don’t fit in terms of worthiness have been blown apart. It doesn’t just belong to us, the insiders. It’s for the outsiders as well. This is what Paul sees in Jesus.
In the Christian tradition, we look at time through the lens of the church year. Thinking of time in this way reminds me of who I am and the story that I belong to that is different from other possible stories. It's not just a story I read, but one that I am living daily. But what happens when the story you are raised in has become a drain? Something that is not life-giving, but one that creates pain, guilt and hurt?
When the wise men show up in Matthew's gospel, it's anything but cute. It's kind of dark, actually. Outraged tyrants. Murder plots. Last minute escapes. Matthew's story doesn't have any angels, shepherds, donkeys or a sweet little manger, even. These all belong to Luke's story. Which is the kinder, gentler gospel. The wise men get a little spotlight time this time of the year. But kind of like any Christmas pageant, they are usually tacked on to an already awesome story. As a bonus or something.
This Sunday at St. George's, we'll be celebrating the feast of the Epiphany, which normally ends the twelve days of Christmas. It is one of the older feasts in the Christian calendar, being celebrated first in the 4th century. Epiphany means “manifestation” or “striking appearance,” It celebrates the (the revealing, the unveiling) of Jesus’ divine identity to the gentiles--the people who do not yet know the story of the God of Israel.