Sunday, January 10, 2021

Tabloids, Truth and the Unknown Saviour

Propers for the Sunday after the Epiphany

Sermon for the Sunday after the Epiphany

We hear of the events of the Lord's birth.
We see the angels and shepherds and Magi.
We see the glitter of gold, smell the frankincense and bitter myrrh.
We see the baby in the manger.

And then we see nothing.

We have nothing about the life of Our Lord until He is twelve years old and talking to the Rabbis in the temple except that we see Him fly into Egypt and return after the death of Herod. We know nothing of the early life of Our Lord: just the circumstances of His Birth, an incident in the temple, and then silence until we hear Him begin His ministry with the word, "Repent!"

Why do we know so little?


There are some rumours, stories in old books such as the Infancy Gospel of St Thomas which do not have the greatest reputation. If the Gospels are top quality journalism, then the Infancy Gospel is a sensationalist tabloid. Here we have tales of the Lord making birds out of mud and striking dead bullies and irascible teachers. All very lurid. All very fanciful.

Why don't we know more about Jesus' life?


Our question is met with another question: why do we want to know more about Jesus' life? We have a fascination with biographies and autobiographies in which we look for all the lurid details which the authors have taken great delight to publish. 

Perhaps, just perhaps, we have this love of biographies because we want our lives to correspond with those we admire, or scoff at those we do not. We seek validation for our own lives in the reports of others'. Our sins don't seem so bad if we compare them with another's. 

The problem is that a biography is not a person. It's an impression, just a mere footprint in the sand of life and eroded by the tides of time. If we seek some comfort in being ourselves in the ghosts of others'lives then we aren't being true to ourselves. We know only about ourselves if we're willing to interact with other people.


All that is written in the Gospels about Our Lord's life is all wee need to know for our own good and our own salvation. The Lord's infancy is not relevant to us and, if we have any respect for the privacy of others, it is best left alone. Surely it is better to learn about someone's life from their own lips as friends than reading about them in the tabloids!

If we're seeking to feel better about ourselves then we need to address our own brokenness rather than look for it in others. We can only deal with our own brokenness by opening ourselves up to Our Lord and admitting that we need healing. We must present to Him every aspect of our lives by which we are  crippled by self-loathing, doubt and shame because it is in Him that these vast chasms of imperfection within us can be cleansed and healed by His Grace. 


The Lord is reading our autobiographies as we write them in the fabric of reality. Ours is the highest quality journalism because we cannot but reveal the truth to God because He knows us more than we know ourselves. He doesn't seek our embarrassment nor to feel good about Himself from our mistakes. On the contrary, rather than read our autobiographies, He wants us to share our lives with Him so that He can share His life with that. This is not something that can be written in any book, but rather in the depths of our heart.

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