By Rev. J. Pete Hyde
The holidays are over! Something inside of me wants to jump up and down and shout HALLELUJAH! I just couldn’t separate myself from all the job activities to really “get into the spirit of the season” this year. Now, the decorations are almost all packed up and put in the attic. The last of the holiday visits are almost over. The leftovers no longer hold any appeal and the New Year arrived with all kinds of fanfare I couldn’t stay awake long enough to enjoy. I think of all the things we are supposed to be thinking about at the beginning of the year and can’t seem to get into that spirit either.
In a week or two we’ll forget that this is a NEW year and our lives will probably fall back into the same routine. Resolutions will be forgotten. The pounds won’t come off. “Those people” will still be “those people.” The changed attitude is beginning to slip back to its old ways. The New Year – What does it matter anyway? It came. We saw. We watched some football and it disappeared.
Isn’t that what the Wise Men did? They came. They saw. They disappeared. They left us with the plague of gift giving and then just disappeared from history. The only account of these visitors is in a few short verses from the Gospel of Matthew. They came as seekers of the one whom the star announced. They fired up the hatred of Herod. They worshiped the child Jesus and returned “by another road” never to be heard from again.
Surely they wondered about this child the star had shown them. Surely they heard the news in later years of the one who was born of a virgin, healed the sick, made the lame walk, made the deaf hear, caused the mute to speak, cast out demons, forgave sins, stood up to the authorities, was given a mockery of a trial, was crucified and then rose from the grave. Surely they wondered. But, where did the gift givers go?
We are told they went home. They went back to what they had always done and we do not know if their encounter with Jesus had any effect on their lives or not. Were they changed? Did they feel, in the words of John Wesley, “their hearts strangely warmed?” We just do not know.
As one who struggled getting into the “Christmas Spirit” this year, I now reflect on the season and hope that I am not like the wise men who came to visit the child Jesus, and simply do what I came to do and then go home without another word. I take a deep breath as a tear comes to my eye. (It’s OK because no one is here but me.) I ask God to help me not be like the Wise Men – encounter Jesus and disappear as if nothing happened. I have been touched by the savior and He has left His mark on my life and blessed me. I can never just return to the old ways like the encounter never happened. The holidays are over! But the touch of the hand of God lives in the hearts of those who will recognize and accept it. It truly is THE GIFT. As you journey into this New Year, may the hand of God touch you, hold you, protect you, assure you, and comfort you so that you will never be the same.
Rev. J. Pete Hyde is Senior Pastor of the Santa Rosa Beach Community Church. 850-267-2599, srbcc.com.