“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.”
What is worship? We have been following the journey of the Magi who followed a star to find a new born king “to worship him.” The star led them towards Jerusalem and they looked in the palace of the king, king Herod. But Herod was not the father of the new born king. The religious teachers pulled out the prophecies of Isaiah written centuries earlier saying a babe would be born in Bethlehem. “Out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.” Ironically the people of Israel are not following the star but Magi from the east, non-Jews we surmise, are. Yesterday we celebrated this event that we call Epiphany because the Christmas narrative is not just about the Jews but about “peace on earth” available to all people. Our gym coach told me that in his tradition they call it “Three Kings Day” and wake up to worship and give gifts!
The Magi find the babe in a house, so possibly up to two years has passed since the birth. Luke is jumping the details of the stable, the shepherds, Simeon and Anna. The Magi enter the house and worship. They did not seem to be bothered by Jesus being a baby. They saw with their hearts and not just with their eyes. Worship is not just the response to receiving answers to prayer or even to tingly feelings and ecstatic experiences. Worship can be defined as “show reverence and adoration for a deity.” Worship is a multifaceted response to standing in the presence of God. David danced. King Hezekiah upon receiving a threatening letter, lays the letter on the altar and cries out to God. Hannah was perceived to be drunk as she fell before God begging for a baby – Samuel. Some services are quiet and reflective while others are loud and joyous. There is no set pattern. The eyes of faith see beyond the trappings of religion to the reality – the baby is God incarnate, a new king – and the heart worships.
So what sort of happenings draw you into worship? A beautiful sunset? A quiet church where you can lament and pray? A fun group gathering with good music? This year may we like the Magi see with eyes of faith the baby Jesus resurrected and active in our lives and may we find many opportunities to worship as we are led by his Spirit.