Most urgent of the tasks given at Christmas, I believe, is the charge given to the Wise Men by King Herrod. “Then he sent them to Bethlehem saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” (Matthew 2:8)
Delling identifies ‘ezetazo/diligent search’ in Plato and Philo writings “used of academic, scientific, philological and philosophical investigations.” Both words joined together in this text, ‘ezetazo and akribos’ are two completely separate words which independently both have the sense of ‘to find out by questioning’; ‘to seek out’; ‘to test’.
These synonyms used together give emphatic direction to the Wise Men, ‘by any and every means necessary, go and find the child!’ But not just to ‘find the child’, but seek to know all there is to know about the child.
I am reminded of the exercise that the late great Reverend Dr. Howard Thurman gave us as we began our “seven day intensive study of the grounds and meaning of the religious experience.” He gathered ten black seminarians from throughout the country (one of the two reasons given in our scholarship letter is that “we are black”) and sat us around him as he was seated in a long leather lounge chaise. He had us to close our eyes as he walked us into a deep still silent place inside ourselves. Once there he said to write the first thing that comes to our mind when he said the next word. “JESUS”. After listening to our individual associations he sat up from his chair and said to us, “Young people, don’t spend your lives putting so much on Jesus. Jesus is his own man. It just may be that God is calling you to be a Christ.”
Critical to the task that Herrod has given the Wise Men is the ‘warning’ given to them in a dream— to go back another way. Change— the word of the century used as the theme to drive the most phenomenal election in American history. Change! We need!
I am convinced and have diligently sought to convince the church of the need to change the way we handle ‘the child’ that is given. My statement continues now as a part of every sermon that I prepare and deliver: “TIME OUT for volunteer workers with the children in the church. TIME IN for full time Children’s Pastors and full time Children’s Ministries to meet the ever growing needs and demands of the lives of children in our times. One thing that puzzles me greatly is how easily we have succumbed to the plot to put 5 year olds on ‘drugs’ as they enter the school systems???? What kind of rehabilitation can be given in this life as it grows into adulthood? Better question— is there life after (this forced drug addiction) death (of an innocent child)?
One of my program visions for Children’s Ministries is one that is beyond ‘nursery school’ and ‘day care’— but a church program for 4 year olds at risk for the system’s ‘Ritalin’; or ‘Adderall’ et al, drug addictions. Needless to say, it is not in ‘The Church Budget!!!’ (Where your treasure Is…).
The ‘Warning’ is one that must be heeded— when it comes to ‘the Way’ that we have taken to seek ‘the child’, “Go back another way!”
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