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Sunday, January 4, 2015

The sin of indifference

Ok, so snow day at church today, but thanks to modern technology, there is no reason to not post a sermon.

My sermon for this week would have been based on Matthew 2:1-12.

So today we celebrate the Epiphany.  The Greek root of the word means "revealed", and in the story of the Three Wise Men, we hear the reaction of several people to the revealing of the Christ Child into the world.

How would you react to the news?  Because in the Gospel for today, we learn of three very different reactions, and it occurs that we probably only notice two.

The first two are pretty obvious.  The Three Wise Men, as I mentioned in an earlier sermon, were astrologers, and they had apparently read the coming of Jesus in the stars.  When the Three Wise Men hear about it, they are overjoyed, and they pack their things and head west to bring him gifts and pay homage to him.

Along the way, they meet Herod, who secretly plots to kill the child because they call hims a King, and Herod thinks that Jesus threatens his power, wealth and prestige.

In reality, Jesus does of course threaten power, wealth and prestige, not because he would have stolen or inherited these things, but because he would have rendered them obsolete, but that is perhaps a topic for a different sermon.

So the first two reactions are 1. Joy on the part of the Wise Men and 2. Hostility on the part of Herod.

But there is a third reaction that doesn't often get talked about and that is the reaction of the chief priests and scribes.  Verses 3 and 4 mention that Herod talked to them and asked them where he was to be born, and they respond to his question and then...what?...they go back to doing their thing.

Really?  That's all they do?  They are totally indifferent to the news?  Not joyful or hostile?

I am personally at great pains to judge which reaction is worse, Herod's or the priests.  At least Herod had a reaction.  At least he cared about the situation, even if his reaction to it was negative and evil

Indifference might just the great evil of our age.  To look at the suffering of the world, of our neighbours, or our loved ones and to have it not even flick our needle, to have absolutely no feelings or reaction to it might just be the worst sin of all.

Whether we are talking about a famine in a Africa, fundamentalist nut cases in the Middle East, poverty in our own cities, or simply a friend getting heckled unfairly at an AGM, perhaps it is time to take a stand, to take a side.

Perhaps the time has come to give up the "not my table" mentality, using the "I don't want to get involved" defense and actually stick up for our principles.

I hope in the new year, we have the courage to have a reaction to those things which have been and continue to be revealed to us.

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