Preparing for Epiphany

by Christine Sine

Wise men from Jesusmafa Camaroons

In a couple of days we will celebrate the Eve of Epiphany (January 5th) and the arrival of the Magi.  We have watched and waited through Advent, in Christmas we have come to the manger and seen the birth of our Saviour and now we are asked to go, to follow, and to tell others. It seems very fitting that this celebration is the first in the new year because it is an invitation to begin afresh, with new dedication and zeal for the ways of God.

Because Tom & I did not grow up in a liturgical tradition, we assemble our creche before Christmas with the Magi already there. But traditionally, our turbaned wise men with their camels should move slowly around our house towards the manger, only arriving on January 5th – the Eve of Epiphany.

This is an incredible season that many of us ignore, unaware of its significance. The Magi knew that the rising of God’s morning star heralded an event of cosmic proportions. They left everything behind to follow the star.

I wonder at their improbably presence in the Christmas story, at their capacity to recognize the divine lying in the gloom of poverty.

But where are the Jewish sages to join them around my tiny creche?  Where are the religious leaders who longed for the Messiah?  They were invited.  The star led the magi to Jerusalem.  News of Israel’s Saviour reached the holy land on the lips of foreigners.  The priests were able to name the place of the Messiah’s birth from prophecy and pointed the pagans in the right direction.  But why – why – did none follow? (From Invitation to Epiphany: tabitha Plueddemann Mosaic Bible)

Every Christmas we meet with Christ in a new way, a way that should mean death to our old selves and new birth into the eternal life of God.  Epiphany is an invitation to follow the Christ that we have encountered over the Christmas season and begin a new journey. So why, why don’t we follow with the same dedicated commitment and zeal that the Magi and early followers of Jesus showed?

For the Magi their journey towards the Christmas star was life changing. They could no longer go back to their old gods.  They could no longer walk the old paths or be satisfied with the old life.  They had met the Messiah and recognized him as light to the world not just as God’s glory revealed to Israel. They had seen him as God’s redeemer to foreigners as well as to the Jews. And as a result they did not go back to the religious leaders of jerusalem after their revelation – they went home by a different way.

How has our journey towards Christ and the light of his presence changed us this Christmas season?  What new journeys are we embarking in that show we have been touched by God’s light?   How can we better follow him into a new journey that leads us and others towards God’s eternal light?

Through Advent we have watched and waited,
In Christmas we have found the Messiah,
And we have been changed.
Now we must follow God’s guiding star,
Light to the world, redemption for all people.
We can no longer be satisfied with the old life,
We must journey deeper into God.
May we open our ears to listen,
So that we can hear God’s heartbeat.

May we open our eyes to watch,
So that we can see God’s presence.

May we open our minds to believe,
So that we can embrace God’s ways.

May we open our hearts to trust,
So that we can share God’s salvation.

 

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6 comments

Ros Harper January 2, 2015 - 9:58 am

Brilliant! This has been so helpful to me. I have been struggling to write something for the Family Worship service I am leading on Sunday. A last minute thing, as my husband the vicar has to take a communion at a neighbouring church which has no priest at the moment. I am a Worship Leader,but although I lead worship and write services, I find talks tricky. Your few words have given me such inspiration. I am straight off to work on it. Just hope some children will be there. Joyous Epiphany!

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Christine Sine January 2, 2015 - 1:54 pm

Thanks Ros for this affirmation. So glad this helped you find a focus. I would love to see what you put together for the sermon. Many blessings

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S. Deen, Fayetteville, Arkansas January 2, 2015 - 12:56 pm

This meditation of yours on the Magi is a gently compelling message of The Great Light that has been revealed to the gentile Wise Men through the Star of Bethlehem. As they were able to see The Divine in that place of great poverty so long ago, may we too follow That Great Light without distraction and see The Divine in unexpected people, in unexpected places. May God give us grace to be ever mindful, ever watching. May the Peace of Christ be with us all now and forevermore. Amen

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Christine Sine January 2, 2015 - 1:55 pm

Amen and thank you

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Sharolyn January 3, 2015 - 4:46 am

I’m also finding this helpful in connecting the idea of the new year and fresh beginnings with Epiphany in preparation for our worship service tomorrow – thanks Christine.

I have really been pondering the idea that the magi (think magic…) were pagans, likely astrologers, perhaps even witches or new agey types. I know not a lot is said about them, but this is what I have gathered from some commentaries… It is one thing to imagine kings bowed before Jesus in His poverty – this is certainly something. But I find it particularly humbling to think that God was revealed to folk who we often see as so far away from God. So spiritually deceived or even wicked. But like that quote said; where were the religious leaders and priests? If Jesus returned today would it be the church going, religious types who would recognize him? Would I recognize him? Or would he again reveal himself to the local taro card reader, the wiccan and the lady who writes the astrology column? Pretty challenging. So beautiful that from the very beginning of his life, Jesus showed that he had come – and there is room in the Kingdom for – people of all races, beliefs and backgrounds.

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Christine Sine January 3, 2015 - 8:09 am

Sharolyn, What you ask are very important questions. I think that God is still being revealed through those we think of as unacceptable. We can see it every day if we are only willing to open our eyes. God is revealed through all those who show compassion, give generously, work for peace, care for creation, whether they call themselves followers of Christ or not

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