Formations Lesson for Dec- 19- Where is the Child?
December 1 2010 by Christopher Moore, minister of education, children and senior adults, Durham Memorial Baptist Church, Durham

Focal Passage: Matt. 1:1-12  

Have you ever attended a church that used an alarm system? I certainly understand the reasoning behind such security measures, but I sometimes fantasize about asking a church why an alarm system is necessary. “Because we need to keep would-be thieves out of the church,” might be the response.

To which I would love to counter, “Why keep the thieves out? Church is exactly where they need to be!”

Sure, such a hypothetical exchange is nonsensical, but if you stop and think, I bet you know of a church that has unwittingly adopted an “alarm system” mentality. Stated another way, you probably know of a church with semi-permeable walls: friends are let in, strangers are kept out.

The magi of Matthew’s birth narrative were strangers in a foreign land.

Unfortunately, during the Christmas season their story is often recounted with such cuteness that we may fail to discern how spectacular such a visit would have been. Only Matthew’s gospel, written for a Jewish audience, records the visit of these mysterious gift-bearing magi, who were, among other things, Gentiles! These magi were not part of the Jewish religious establishment, they looked and spoke differently than the Judean natives, and their customs may have made them stand out in a crowd.

Nevertheless, they were searching for Jesus, even before they knew who He was.

How many people outside the church are searching for someone they’ve yet to meet?

More importantly, how are we as Christians helping strangers find the one they seek?

Are we a welcoming community that is not intimidated by differences in culture or custom, or do we make a preemptive attempt to sort out the wheat from the tares, the friends from the foes?

Forgive me for the disturbing image, but instead of having “alarm system” churches, what if we had churches that were more like roach motels? You know, easy to get in, but hard to get out. Again, it’s a silly idea, but perhaps it’s also crazy enough to work.

What if churches readily included strangers into the fold, rather than sounding the “intruder alert”?

What if congregations made visitors seem so welcome and accepted that these “outsiders” hated having to leave? Such a concept is certainly not novel, for Jesus himself was intently concerned with the plight of the stranger, the outcast, and the marginalized (e.g. the entire Gospel of Luke).

The story of the magi reminds us that, even as a newborn, Jesus was a magnet for outsiders.

As Christians, can we describe ourselves the same way?  
12/1/2010 4:34:00 AM by Christopher Moore, minister of education, children and senior adults, Durham Memorial Baptist Church, Durham | with 0 comments




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