MESSAGE: Epiphany Sunday – A – 1 January 2023
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
THEME: Epiphany a light for the nations.
Arise, shine; for your light has come.
What is the Epiphany of our Lord? Who are the major characters?
Re-tell the story.
It’s Epiphany! Epiphany: a realisation/revelation of the nature of God, shown in the flesh – Jesus.
How do the scriptures reveal Jesus to us today!
This is the day of the year that we celebrate the Incarnation of God into the person of Jesus Christ. From the Incarnation flows everything else in our faith: the teaching of Jesus Christ, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection.
This week we begin a New Year and so this week’s reflections call us to choose how we will commit to living through the year to come.
At the heart of this choice is a challenge to recognise God’s presence and activity in our lives and our world, and the openness to hear how God may be leading us.
Then, flowing from this awareness, we are called courageously to follow God’s guidance, and to lead others to a deeper, more abundant life in Christ.
Today, well actually, 6th January, is the moment in the Church Calendar when we remember the visit of the Magi to Jesus – and we begin a season of learning to see how God’s glory was reflected in the life and ministry of Jesus.
Here there is another challenge – to be those who both witness the glory of God in Jesus, and who, like Jesus, allow God’s glory to be reflected in our own lives.
How we respond to these challenges will make all the difference for 2023. This week we are encouraged to make the right choice and choose Jesus’ priorities, values, and practices for our own
After this “darkness” that will “cover the earth” and “the people, Isaiah proclaims “Arise, shine; for your light has come!”
In other words, this is a time of celebration. The day spring has come. Our God is with us, and it is now time for cheer and for the gloomy clouds of night to disperse.
Isaiah proclaims a message of light and salvation into our dark and gloom.
Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14
Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, he is supposed to come in and start judging “with righteousness” and “crush[ing] the oppressor[s].”
In more concrete terms, the expectation is that Jesus will come in, drive the Roman Empire out of the Holy Land, and overthrow false kings like Herod the Great.
The last four verses give us the meaning of Epiphany and tell us about Jesus’s ministry.
The rulers of Tarshish, Sheba and Seba come to pay homage to the king. These places represent that which is foreign, strange and far away, in much the same way as the Magi when they visit Jesus.
Christ, as the king in the psalm does, comes for the “the weak and the needy” and those who experience “oppression and violence,” and the foreigners who came from afar to pay homage are included in this promise. The King, Christ, comes to redeem the lives of all, including those foreign.
This is a message of hope that Paul brings to the believers in Ephesus, for he says that the promise of relationship and covenant that God has historically promised to the Jewish people since they first heard the story of their patriarch Abraham is now available to all peoples through Jesus Christ. This, plain and simple, is why we should all be excited about Epiphany.
“Through faith” in God, we now have the “boundless riches of Christ” and the “wisdom of God.” Thanks be to God!
Herod – The Magi – The Star – The Visit – The Gifts
What leads us, what/who do we follow?
What do we offer to Jesus?
The star hanging in the sky is God announcing to the world, “Arise, shine; for your light has come”!
Matthew begins “his argument” that Jesus is the new Moses. Just as Moses “saved” the people by leading them out of Egypt, so Jesus will “save” us from leading us out of sin
Herod = Pharoah – both attempt to circumvent God’s plan, both think they have the power over life and death, but that is God’s power alone
God is at work in the world despite the true evil that exists
God does not guarantee that bad things and evil will not happen, but does promise that we do not walk through life’s dark valley’s alone
God is not naive about the evils of the world- neither should we be
The Wise Men have no idea where to go until Herod tells them the scripture the priests related to him
They visit the house of Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem…not a stable
In Matthew Jesus is a King, not a poor baby born in a stable
The royal family lives in Bethlehem to begin with and only go to Nazareth after returning from Egypt
Kingly gifts- expensive luxury items
The foreign gentiles immediately recognize Jesus as the son of God and “King of Kings” and bring his gifts accordingly
Myrrh – an embalming oil and foreshadowing of his death (see John 19:39 and Mark 15:23)
Frankincense – Priestly incense used in rituals
Gold – sign of kingship
What do we do with these “facts”?
Capture the sense of wonder and mystery:
Where is the truth?
Jesus’ birth is of cosmic and astronomical importance for ALL people
Jesus is a king (but not the King we expect- as foreshadowed by the Myrrh)
Jesus is a priest (but not the one we expect who answers to Kings like Herod)
Jesus’ birth is good news for all who wish to participate in God’s radically inclusive love and grace, but is not good news for those who desire power over and against others (just as the Exodus is good news, but not for Pharaoh who rejects God’s invitation to be an agent of grace)
Arise, shine; for your light has come”!