I was reflecting on the story of the Magi this morning from Matthew 2. It strikes me that those of us who are followers of Christ and those who are not followers of Christ (thought slightly differently, just wait, I get there, I promise) are now faced with a similar question as they were.
The Magi had seen a star and knew that something big was happening. They wanted nothing more than to worship the “king of the Jews.” So they traveled from “the East” in search of this infant king. We don’t know where exactly they came from, though most assume eastern Asia. We don’t know how many, though the song says three. What we do know is that they brought gifts and a desire to worship.
Over the course of the last few days we have seen our world change. We can no longer meet in gatherings larger than ten. Nearly every congregation has moved their services online over the last weekend. This has left some people feeling like they can’t worship any longer. Some believe that to worship you need a stage, a screen, and a show.
In reality, what we need is a desire to worship the king. This desire draws us from a place of self to a place of looking for the king.
In these days we are forced to ask the question that the Magi ultimately had to answer: Is it worth it?
They were faced with the daunting task of travel and travel to an unknown place and without much direction. Could you imagine? I mean seriously? These people saw a star in the sky and said, “Let’s roll…er walk.” What were they thinking? I don’t think that I could have done that. They had no idea that this was the Christ. All they “knew” was that this was the king of the Jews and they wanted to come worship. These people didn’t jump on a plane or a train. No, they were walking or perhaps riding on the backs of camels or donkeys or horses. Their route was no doubt treacherous. I am sure that the potential for being robbed or killed on their way was real. Yet, in the face of all that was before them it was worth the risk to worship the king of the Jews.
Many of us are being forced out of our worship comfort zones are we not? For many it is easy and comfortable to drive to the building and walk in knowing what to expect. The order of the service is routine. We know when to stand and sit. Our expectations are usually correct. Sure, every once in a while there is a bump in the road or a little change here or there. But, for the most part, everything is normal. We sit in the same place and hug the same people. Our Lord’s day is something that we can do almost on autopilot. This is, in many ways, what makes it so restful. In a world where there is little normalcy and stability, our worship gatherings provide us with such.
We are now faced with the reality that the normalcy is gone. No matter how small our gathering is, we can not meet for the sake of loving our neighbor. The question now stands before us, “Is it worth it?"
Is it? Is worship of the Christ worth learning some new technology? Is worship of the Christ worth connecting with people in different ways? Is worship of the Christ worth mailing your offering or giving online? Is worship of the Christ worth holding off on celebrating the Lord’s table until the day comes when we can gather again?
If you’re not a Christ follower and you’re reading this you might be thinking, “Well, this is useless for me.” I think that you have to ask the question too. We are social creatures. I am confident that you have communities that you typically connect with throughout your week. Many of those opportunities have simply dried up and disappeared. The question is before you too. Is connecting with others worth creating new spaces and new means by which to connect? Is connecting with others worth joining in the digital spaces they are creating? Perhaps it’s a digital happy hour or maybe the parents from your school are getting together to do some online chit chat. Is it worth it?
Is it worth it?
The Magi determined it was.