Welcome to the New Series of WORKTALKweekly
We continue our series looking at words that need to be redefined but now our series overlaps with a five week advent series; this is the second in that series.
Sometimes all you get is a glimpse – a fleeting moment when the mist clears – only to descend again leaving you wondering about all the things you cannot see. Probably three travellers have arrived, probably from Iran, following the path of a star via the capital city and royal court to a small building in Bethlehem, where they offer their worship and very expensive gifts – then they leave. And that’s it: a glimpse of events which seem strange and disconnected. But if you’ve been hanging around the man who was the baby they came to see, you will know that nothing is meaningless or disconnected in his story however strange it may seem.
In the middle of the moment there is a turning point, a time when roles are reversed, plans are remade and the background scenery contains the decoded message.
The magi were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod. It’s a simple statement and, if you’re honest, you may have thought that they could have been wise enough men to figure out that not going back was a good idea anyway.
But this dream was a gift from God, and when you see it like that all kinds of treasures are revealed. First it tells you that God was thanking them for their gifts. They had given gifts of time, of travel, of search, of honour as well as the physical cargo they brought with them. God’s response is a warning dream as a gift for them in divine honour and gratitude. It’s a strange concept, but has it occurred to you that God is grateful to you for your time, effort, energy and donations? When your week seems all give, may I suggest you remember this dream?
The gift here not only shows you a glimpse of gratitude, but the kindness and love of God. He is not interested in whether they are Jewish, Iranian, African or Chinese in terms of whether He loves them. He gifts this dream to them because He wants to show them His love. There is no disqualification due to cultural or racial background.
Again, this dream tells you that even the wisest of wise men don’t know everything. They were from a far country and Herod was not familiar to them. They really did not know the capacity for cruelty that was lodged in his soul. In their innocence they had gone to him to ask where the new king was to be born – not a brilliant question with which to endear yourself to the old king. So God gives them the gift of this dream to wise them up and fill in the gaps in their considerable knowledge.
It also tells you that He wanted them to get home. Maybe it was not the route they had planned, but this gift was designed to change their satellite navigation system and re-calculate their route. There was a less dangerous, safer path which would save them from self-destruction – for going back to Herod was as good as throwing themselves on their own curved swords.
So if you let the treasures tumble out of this gift you will discover a God of gratitude, love, kindness, warning, wisdom, inclusivity and re-routing. You will discover someone who wants you to get home even if it’s not your chosen route.
As usual the centre of the story is not what it seems. The dream is only a shadow, a fleeting glimpse, a lifting of the mist. The real Dream is lying in the straw – the Gift Himself – a sign of the kindness and indiscriminate love of the divine, a warning, a bundle of wisdom and a different route.
At work this week you can live the dream – you may, if you listen, receive a gift one night for your specific circumstances – circumstances which may be extremely difficult at this moment – but small dream at night or the Dream himself. That’s the point of Advent – it’s a different route.
You may like to think about that on your long journey home.
12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
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