Sermon  January 3, 2021   Apologies for all cat lovers, including myself.  But I couldn’t resist this dance for the new year- with exceptions.  Isn’t it true that we are all like Snoopy, just a little, with our exceptions.  All creatures- except the corona virus or cancer cells, or the family member we are so mad at right now.     The story of the magi in the gospel of Matthew is one that faces squarely the  “exceptions” of those living in the first century.  There is good news- a new king is born in Judea- the messiah. This is the word the magi discover and bring to Jerusalem looking for this favored one. This is the dance.  But there are exceptions to this good news. Herod and his cronies are not pleased.  The text says they were  “frightened”.  That is not really that surprising.  A Messiah right now would shake up the status quo, even threaten the little power Herod held in the Roman run world.   But Herod does not share this with the magi, no he hides his fears, his exception.       What makes Snoopy so endearing, is that he doesn’t hide his exception-cats!  The whole world knows he hates cats.  But what makes Herod evil, is not that he is afraid of the messiah and all the changes that might come. But his dishonesty.   He hides his fear behind a false face of interest and piety. He calls together the biblical scholars to learn more. He goes to his Bible like a good pious king. Then he tells the magi, “Go and search diligently for the child and when you have found him bring word to me so that I may also go and pay him homage.”  ( 2: 8)  Now maybe he really would do this?      Ah but we find out the terrible truth.  When the magi don’t return Herod shows us his true face.       “When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi he was infuriated and he sent and killed all the child in around Bethlehem who were two year old or under according to the time hat he had learned from the magi.” ( 2:16)   Herod’s fear and anger burst out in an act of terror.         Denying our fears, our angers, our shames doesn’t keep them from affecting our lives.  Hiding them behind faces of looking good to others, doesn’t really help us in the long run.  So, how do we deal with our exceptions?   Those aspects of life or persons which would ruin the dance of the new year for us?  Those threats to our status quo that  frighten us.        Well, first...

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