Revd Linda Whetter's Epiphany Sermon, Sunday 3rd January 2021

Epiphany 3 Jan 2021 Yr B

 

Readings

 Isaiah 60:1-6

Ephesians 3:1-12

Gospel Matthew 2:1-12

 

I don’t know about you, but I love all the Christmas tide stories, the way we move from reflection on the way Jesus is revealed to those very first witnesses, to the Epiphany season when we reflect on the way in which Jesus is revealed to the world

 

Of course, the Christmas stories can become too familiar, and there seems to me to be nothing better to   ponder as we leave   behind one of the most difficult years that many have ever had to face and begin   a New Year.  And I wonder how many of you, like me, when setting up your Crib at home if you have one, put the wise men in a different place and move them towards Jesus in the crib by a different route each year? There is something intriguing about the first of the Epiphany stories. The story of the journey of the   three wise men, or Magi or astrologers as they are sometimes called, who find the Christ child and bring him their gifts.

 

Perhaps it is their mysterious arrival and equally mysterious departure. Perhaps it is the symbolism of their gifts.  Perhaps it is that the wise men were motivated by curiosity rather than religious conviction and commitment. Perhaps it is because   their knowledge of the stars revealed a cosmic event. Perhaps it is because their encounters as they journeyed through deserts and over mountains revealed a God who travelled with them into the unknown. Perhaps it is when the wise men leave their gifts with the Christ-child they take away a treasure that surpasses anything they brought themselves. They take away the gift of knowing who Jesus is; they are enriched by their encounter with him; return another way, enriching others with their own experience.

 

Whatever the reason, the intriguing story of the wise men is a reminder that this Epiphany journey, is not just the wise men’s journey, it is everyone’s journey.

 They    invite us to keep going when we feel we are on our own in strange territory, to keep going after our first attempt to arrive has failed, to keep going into the unknown to the unexpected encounter. Because, despite the many images we have of the star leading the wise men, Mathew implies that the star disappeared after they first saw it-hence their joy when it reappeared after their potentially disastrous visit to Herod.   What began as a journey of curiosity, ended up a pilgrimage.  They had to stop being stargazers and consult the scriptures and other people to find out where Jesus was and when they did that, they   rode into God’s frame of reference.

 

 These wise men are a summary of all those who journey in hope, all who seek, whether we seek for love, for acceptance or for understanding. The stories are of our lives, how we discover, how we find, how we are led to God.  How we seek, see and encounter God.

 

The Epiphanies, all so very different for each of us, that forever change who we are, how we live, and the road we travel in our ordinary everyday life.  Our presence here reminds us that we do   not have to tramp the world seeking the Christ-child, we find Christ here in the word, in the breaking of the bread and in the midst of   the community.

 

As we enter the Epiphany season, may it be a time to ponder ever more deeply the mystery of the Incarnation – of God born as one of us – the mystery that is ours to wonder at, to open ourselves to God’s revelation of himself in our lives and live out.

As we begin a New Year, may we feel God’s loving presence with us bringing new life, new hope, to share in its   joys, strengthen us in sorrow, helping   us to face    any   challenges that may lie ahead.

 

 

Amen.

 


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