Well, here we are once again, hustling and bustling, Christmas two weeks away. Every time the calendar flips from November to December, activities rev into high gear. Parties here. Programs there. Blocking off time with family and friends and of course squeezing in moments to shop for the perfect gifts.
We know Christmas perches on the doorstep when “Charlie Brown Christmas” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” monopolize cable station programming, serving as background noise while people cut out Christmas tree cookies or slice up red and green vegetables for specialty trays at the office Christmas party. Radio stations join in the festivities by playing around the clock Christmas carols, people hearing and humming snippets of these while zipping from point A to point B. Yes, what we consider busy in the first eleven months pales in comparison to December. Sometimes we schedule so many activities that we forget Someone very important. In fact, the reason we celebrate. In our harried efforts to satisfy obligations here and celebrations there, we get too busy for Jesus.
The Gospels share accounts of two differing groups of people visiting the Christ Child. In the Luke account, angels invite shepherds and in the Gospel of Matthew, a special Star drew the attention of Magi. The shepherds visited the manger; the Magi caravan traveled a great distance, showing up at the doorstep of the young Baby’s home. Neither the shepherds nor the Magi expressed frustration at adding another activity into an already busy schedule. Both groups paid homage to the newborn King and left the holy encounter different….changed…blessed.
Sadly, one group of people considered their time too valuable to investigate the report of the Messiah’s birth. That group? The religious leaders. Visiting dignitaries alerted the religious teachers to the Star’s appearance. In fact, the Magi stopped at Jerusalem, asking a question that caused quite a stir,
“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him? (Matthew 2)
King Herod summoned the chief priests and the teachers of the law and asked them where the Christ was to be born. Without hesitation, they responded by quoting an Old Testament prophecy concerning the Messiah’s birth:
“In Bethlehem, in Judea, for this is what the prophet has written: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means the least among the rulers of Judah, for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’” (Matthew 2)
With the information in hand, the Magi journeyed to the place of Jesus’ birth. The religious leaders resumed business as normal. Even though dropping everything to join the Magi seems sensible and expected, they chose to stay in Jerusalem, interpreting the Law, issuing judgments and displaying general acts of religiosity. It’s a strange decision. I mean we’re talking the Messiah…the King of the Jews. Sadly, they chose to stay home. A preconceived ideology on how the Messiah should appear, and seven miles separated the religious from a relationship. Busy-ness and misconceptions dictated their response to the claims of visitors from a distant land.
This Christmas season, let’s not so complicate our lives with “stuff” that we miss the significance of Christ’s birth.
Let’s not get too busy for Jesus.