As promised, this week I’m going to try to answer the questions that didn’t get pulled in this weekend’s bingo sermon questions, Midrash in the Moment.
Here’s a question I did answer in one of the services. I think it’s a good one so I took a listen to what incoherent ramblings came out of my mouth and typed it up here.
Question: I’m not even sure I believe in God. Is there something in the Christmas story for me?
There’s two ways I think you could approach that question.
The first would be to point to the magi. The wise men were astronomers, 1st century scientists, men of reason and objective observation. And they were Gentiles, foreigners. They didn’t believe in God, at least not the God with a capital G. They didn’t anything about the God of Israel. They see an usual constellation in the sky. They do some research and find out about this Jewish prophecy from Isaiah about a king, and they go check it out. They don’t go there intending to worship the God of Israel and yet the grace of God makes them a part of the Gospel anyway.
So you could point to the magi and conclude that there’s a place for unbelievers at the manger.
Or you could point to who’s not at the manger. The scribes.
Remember, the star only leads the magi to the Jerusalem. When they get there, they ask Herod’s scribes- biblical scholars and religious believers- where the King was foretold to be born.
And the scribes don’t know.
They’d forgotten their story. They’d forgotten God’s promises. They have to hit the stacks in the library and look it up in order to find Micah’s prophecy about Bethlehem.
So maybe another way to answer is by pointing out that being a religious person doesn’t necessarily guarantee you a place at the manger.
It’s not enough just to believe in God.
It’s about believing God, making God’s story and God’s promises a part of you such that you never forget them.
So, yes, there’s something in the Christmas story for you. And there’s also something of a warning in it for people like me.