I am wanting to disturb you! On listening to the story of the Magi visiting the Messiah again (Matthew 2:1-12), I was stopped by these words ‘when King Herod heard this he was disturbed and all Jerusalem with him’ in verse 3.

Really? All Jerusalem? Not a non-anxious presence then!

What is disturbing me? That was my starting point.

Reading the previous two verses, the cause for Herod’s disturbance appears to be the exploratory question of the mysterious ones from the east; ‘where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him?’ I’ve heard enough and preached enough sermons to know something of the implications for Herod, or any king, these words could bring if they saw a rival to their own kingship was appearing on the scene. Is that what I needed to recognise? If I dared to ask the question ‘where is the one born king of the Jews’, in every facet of my life, would I be disturbed, or content to submit it to the King of Kings?

Where am I disturbing others? Maybe because I recognise part of my role appears to be to ask other people ‘where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?’ I was drawn forwards to ask this question. Obviously I don’t ask anyone this question exactly, but I do ask individual people, as well as leadership teams questions such: ‘where are you finding God in this?’ … ‘are you aware of God’s presence with you in this?’… ‘where is Jesus, for you, right now and what do you hear him saying?’. Sometimes, I admit, I’m too scared to ask, but simply think such things, but probably not in such a polite manner!

If you listen carefully enough, you should be able to come up with these two lists – what is disturbing you, and where are you disturbing others. If you don’t, you may need to ask why not. No one else needs to know what’s on either list for me. However, I suspect we could all benefit from reflecting on our own lists.

Leaning into the mission of God will be disturbing both for us and for others and I think Advent and all the pre-Christmas stuff brings both into sharper focus. Let’s face it, we find stopping long enough for five minutes a day to build ‘Practising for Christmas’, (or however else we’re going to reflect on the undergirding story of our life) into December’s frenetic schedule disturbing enough.

Alex made a comment last week, which disturbed me. The church she belongs to took on a read-the-Bible-in-a-year project together this year. She reckoned that although many people are still going strong at the end of the year, some people may only have lasted a month, which is not what caught my attention, but she then said ‘that was surely worthwhile because for some they will still have read more of their Bible, for themselves, in that month than the whole of the previous year’. Scary, but perhaps too near the truth for comfort for many of us.

Some things disturb us and when they threaten to break open our comfort zone we don’t tend to welcome them instinctively, just as our calling others (however nicely put) to see where the king of the Jews is in relation to their lives, is not always warmly welcomed. Can I suggest, before you get to the new year and resolution time, that you stay with your disturbances long enough to hear what God is saying to you there?

 

 

Nigel Coles

Nigel is our Senior Regional Minister and Team Leader. He facilitates the life of the WEBA network team and oversees the missional strategy for the region. He also works to develop missional strategy over a wider geographical area with our partner Associations. Nigel is the main WEBA contact for churches and ministers seeking new leadership opportunities, and he works to encourage individual disciples of Jesus through his ‘DNA groups’ resource.