My first ministry call is to a suburban New York City church with over 1500 members, including corporate executives and television actors on its roster, making this both a stirring and terrifying place. Most of the time, I’m shakin’ in my boots as a lowly assistant pastor.
The senior minister possesses poise and personality, the likes of which I’ve never experienced before or since. Charming and intimidating, all wrapped up in him. Could sense him in a room long before you see him. A true presence. Him.
For the contingent of 4 ordained clergy, we have weekly staff meetings in my office at the far end of the church education building. The senior pastor names them ‘rump sessions’, as if we’re reporting to the king. Him. We three (not kings!) give in-depth ministry updates, warned expressly to ‘never surprise the boss’. Him. After this gathering, we adjourn to the administration building where over 26 of us–myriad secretaries, financial officer, business manager, organist, choir director, a slew of custodians, and some I forget–all report to the head of staff. Him.
So what does this have to do with Numbers 17, let alone Christmas? Good question. Numbers 17 shows us that Aaron is the only priest chosen by God whose wooden staff buds, blossoms and bears fruit overnight. Next day, all Israel’s family leaders reclaim their own staff. Just a stick. Nothing more. Only Aaron’s staff is unique.
Jesus is God’s chosen One to save us from our sin. Him alone. Society doesn’t want to hear this. They posit many paths, all leading somewhere; but, unfortunately, unbeknownst to them, never to redemption. All for naught, except the one staff that buds, blossoms and bears fruit. At Christmas, we know who that staff symbolizes– Jesus, God’s only Son. Him.
John 3:16–‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son…’ No fearsome and forbidding, shivery and quivery staff meetings. No salvation by committee. All we’ll ever need is found wrapped up in swaddling cloths in a manger in Bethlehem all those years ago. He’s the one and only Him. Jesus!
Lord Jesus, thank you for being our best gift ever. Amen.