As we face this new year, we can be excused if a cynical sneer is all the response we can muster to God’s enthusiastic encouragement offered in Jeremiah and Isaiah. What new thing in the repetitious cycle of crime and inequity, in insecurity and the absence of integrity? Where could we possibly see a ‘new thing’ springing forth?
It is precisely in the hopelessness of exile from a native land grown too corrupt to sustain authentic life, without a centre for worship, for government or for culture that the prophets announce this new intervention of God.
Precisely in the turmoil of colonisation and intrigue and marriages of convenience hastily contrived and as hastily discarded, does this delegation of Wise Men arrive at Herod’s court looking for a new king, causing panic across the nation as fear of another onslaught of savagery from an insecure tyrant desperate to hold onto power grips the nation accustomed to the violence that is the sole security of corrupt ineptitude.