Scripture: Matthew 2:1-12
Key verses: (1-2) In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”
Reflection: On vacation, I watched the first episodes of Designated Survivor on Netflix. The show opens during the State of the Union address, bombs explode at the Capitol Building killing everyone there, and the “designated survivor” (in this case, the Secretary of Housing and Human Development) becomes the new president of a government in shambles. Almost immediately, Muslims and people of Middle Eastern descent are targeted with suspicion. My daughter asked me “Is that the way it was after 9/11?”
I thought back. Yes, in some ways it was. 9/11 was a pivot point that shifted our culture. Fear was a strong motivator for personal and national security. The next time I flew, I tried to hide my suspicious glances around the plane as I looked for a potential terrorist.
Today’s reading is an odd one for September. The story of the wise men seeking the newborn king is traditionally read on Epiphany, January 6. Perhaps we can learn something from the story as we remember 9/11. This is a story about foreigners (wise men from the East – my translation uses a capital “E”!). This is a story about fear and national security (Herod was afraid that a new king would be a threat so he subsequently orders the death of every child under the age of two). And this is a story about God’s power. The foreigners were welcome in the presence of the child and were able to worship him and give him gifts. They were led home safely, “by another road,” to thwart Herod’s efforts. God was at work in the midst of a strange encounter.
As we remember 9/11, let’s ask God to lessen the power of our fear and to heighten the power of our faithfulness. Let’s ask God to free us from suspicions and prejudices so that we can see one another as God’s children.
Prayer: On this day, O God, we remember. We remember the people who lost their lives in acts of terror. We remember the brave, the first responders who showed tremendous courage. Do not let fear rule over our hearts. Set us free to be the people you call us to be. Amen.
Author: Millie Snyder
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].