All Jerusalem was troubled

Kelley’s Chapel United Methodist Church — January 7, 2024

John I. Carney
11 min readJan 7, 2024


(Based on a sermon preached January 3, 2015, at First UMC Shelbyville)

A painting depicting three magi presenting their gifts. Mary holds the baby Jesus, while Joseph stands in the background. One magus is kneeling (and has already handed his gift to Joseph, who holds it). Another reaches out with his gift.
Epiphany, by Fernando Gallego, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Some people think of Christmas as a one-day holiday, December 25. But Christmas under the liturgical calendar is a season, lasting 12 days — that’s where the song “The 12 Days of Christmas,” about that partridge in a pear tree, comes from. Well, the bad news is that Christmas ended on Friday. This weekend, we begin a new season, the season of Epiphany. But that season starts with a Bible story that most of us associate with Christmas:

Matthew 2:1–12 (CEB)

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the rule of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him.”

When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, and everyone in Jerusalem was troubled with him. He gathered all the chief priests and the legal experts and asked them where the Christ was to be born. They said, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what the prophet wrote:

“‘You, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
by no means are you least among the rulers of Judah,
because from you will come one who governs,
who will shepherd my…



John I. Carney

Author of “Dislike: Faith and Dialogue in the Age of Social Media,” available at