Those scientists got responses they did not know they needed. They began with what we all are wired to begin with – logic, cause and effect, what we can see, proof, performance, evidence.
We tend to seek all of these before we can truly trust something or someone. This is good since it saves us from a world of trouble inflicted by untrustworthy people with empty promises.
This is also bad for life in relationship with our God because God and his work and promises and achievements for us are mysterious, hidden in things that often defy our logic, are quite ‘unscientific, and not the usual cause and effect way of things.
These thinkers came to this strange moment with God in a person in a shed under that once in a lifetime star. They were moved by this Jesus from fitting God into their logic to God shaping them in his stunning glory.
A similar thing happens to the people who came out to the Jordan to hear that illogical man of God, John. They came out looking for proofs, performance and some affirmation of who they were and what they knew and found was that John believed they did not have any surety in their own performance and goodness, whoever they were – religious leaders, military personnel, traitorous tax officials or just your average person in the street.
These star gazers that night, and all those at the river later on got to that moment when they just had to ask, “Then, what do we do? For the scientists: “If this boy is really God on the move in a big way in his big world of which we are a part”, and for those at the river: “If this fiery man calling for repentance before a holy God and promising this new man with new hope and new life” is really here, then “what do we do? What do I do now?
You only ask that question for a couple of reasons.
You ask, either when you hit that dead end and have nowhere else to go, or when you are so inspired that you just have to go.
How long has it been since you asked, “Then what do we do?”
Lying on the gurney waiting for the ambo’s to come and take me away to Lyell Mac for serious medical intervention on my heart was a moment I asked, ‘Then what should I do? The doctor was clear. ‘Stay still!”
When someone in our family heard the diagnosis of cancer, that was a “Then what should we do? moment.
When struggling through burnout in the last place I served as pastor – that question of “What should I do’ was big. Big changes had to be made.
Hearing that man speak of life and mission and church and being a pastor, was another moment. If that is what we are involved in, if that is what life in God’s church can be, I am in! Then what do I do?
Witnessing the birth of all of our four children with extreme fulfillment and hopefulness – “Then what shall we do?”
Getting married 34 years ago with great thanks and joy, “Then what should we do?”
Getting our first mortgage with that scary number with lots of zeros attached – “Then what should we do?”
How about you?
- The diagnosis came in and it was not good.
- The money came in and it was not enough.
- The plans were made but they were shut down.
- The near miss made your heart skip several beats!
- She said she was leaving.
- He said he is not coping.
- If what this guy is saying is true, then how do I get it or what do I do with this whole new way to be me?
- The job offer came through, the treatment went well, and life is there to live again. What do we do to make the most of this good thing now?
Whether you are at your end because you have come up against a deathly thing that threatens everything or an inspiring thing that transforms everything, the question is the same, “Then what should I do?”
What if God was up the sky somewhere hidden in celestial light way out of touch and way out of reach? You just knew you are supposed to be good to not be cursed by him.
And what if one day, you get that life-threatening bad news?
Of what if one day you get some inspiring new, like those around John – somehow, you just know that God is in him, in the water, in the moment, with you?
Or what if you were one of those camel riding scientists who just had to go; just had to seek; just had to know, and when you came close to what you were after, you knew that this was IT. This was special.
God was not actually up in the holy clouds after all but right here in the dirty dirt in this moment in this baby, in their shed, in this time, close to you.
Ife was not about being good to avoid being cursed by God but about God being good to you despite your curse.
Surely you too would just ask “So, what do we do now?
It is the question for now. That is what is going on right now, right here these weeks.
Cloudy God is now clear God – God with us and we can see him, feel him, no doubt, smell him!
Holy God is now mixing it with our sin and shame and regret and pain – even the pain of childbirth.
Distant God that you somehow have to keep happy by being good is now here showing you just how good he is for you without your performance but entirely because of his.
Silent God locked down in isolated heaven is now singing loudly and in multiple voice that our human ears can hear and receive and sing with.
I hope you ask, ‘Then what should we do? What should I now do?
As we do, His light changes scientists and shepherds and parents from the usual logic of cause and effect, performance and reward, competition, winning and losing, searching for control, seeking power, seeking the self and chasing anything and anyone to be OK …
To freedom to live in this grand good news of love; God’s love for us and with us as us; never unloved, always belonging, never earning or achieving our life: God blessing, Jesus forgiving, healing, calling, only ever receiving with thanks.
And maybe a song in your heart …
That is what the old prophet Zechariah did, even before this moment came.