The magi, the strangers from afar representing the whole of humanity, arrive to worship the Babe of Bethlehem as King of Kings. It is a moment of wonder and of joy, one that we will celebrate as our own with some of the great hymns of the season. If you are in the area, you are warmly invited to join the chorus!
But in the story that Matthew shares, what follows is completely different (Matthew 2: 16-23). It is a scene of evil unleashed, of the Holy One fleeing for life and of innocents suffering death. Upon canvas, the French artist conveys the chaos, the carnage, the fear amidst the fury of violence. In the face of that woman we see so many faces through human history, from Rachel in Ramah to those of Yemen, Sudan and Syria today. And the cry is lifted up through the generations ‘Why, God?’, and even ‘Where is God?’
Though rarely acknowledged, this is a scene that is part of the Christmas story, and of Christian faith. Here we are reminded that evil is part of human life, as it remains part of us … but God is at work in the midst of evil, opening a way through Herod’s ruthlessness for a Saviour of humanity, and ultimately opening a way of life through death for all in that same Jesus. The Christmas story and faith declare that God has begun the renewal of this world and that what God has commenced God will bring to completion. In the meantime Christians live with the reality of evil and suffer its injustices, they live often with tears … but they live without despair. We live in the trust that what God has commenced God will complete, and that even now ‘God is at work to bring all things together for good for those who love God’ (Romans 8:28). It is this trust that has given Christians strength through seasons of personal tragedy and the courage to resist the powers of this world by participating in God’s realm of peace and justice.
This Christian way is not easy, but it is the way of life.
At the beginning of a new year of grace, what can we say but only ‘thanks be to God’.
During the service there is offered a nursery for infants and a programme for young children if desired. There is free parking on the streets around (please note that the time-of-day restrictions on Clergy Street north of Queen are not in effect on Sundays) and in the surface civic lot just behind the church off Queen Street. There is a wheel chair lift available in the doors of the church closest to the manse (the courtyard is entered from the driveway half way along the St. Andrew’s block of Clergy Street) and a wheelchair ramp is available through doors along Princess Street. If you have any other questions, please call the church office Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. – noon, or email firstname.lastname@example.org