Sermon on Joy, Epiphany, 2012

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Title Sermon Date Liturgical Scripture
Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year B March 18, 2012 Sermon, Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year B Numbers 21:4-9, Ephesians 2:1-10, John 3:14-21
Third Sunday in Lent, Year B March 11, 2012 Third Sunday in Lent, Year B Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; John 2:13-22
Second Sunday in Lent, Year B March 4, 2012 Second Sunday in Lent, Year B Mark 8:31-38
Sermon, First Sunday in Lent, Year B February 26, 2012 First Sunday in Lent, Year B Genesis 9:8-17, I Peter 3:18-22, Mark 1: 9-15
Ash Wednesday Service, Feb 22, 2012 February 22, 2012 Ash Wednesday Joel 2:1-2, 12-17
Last Sunday After Epiphany, Year B February 19, 2012 Last Sunday after Epiphany 2 Kings 2:1-12, Psalm 50:1-6, 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, Mark 9:2-9
Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B February 12, 2012 Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Mark 1: 40-45
Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B February 5, 2012 Fifth Sunday after Epiphany, Year B Isaiah 40:21-31, Mark 1:29-39
Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B January 29, 2012 Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B I Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28
Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B January 22, 2012 Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B Mark 1:14-20
Second Sunday After The Epiphany, Year B January 15, 2012 Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B 1 Samuel 3:1-20; Psalm 139: 1-5, 12-17; John 1:43-51
First Sunday After The Epiphany, Year B January 8, 2012 First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B Mark 1:4-11
Sermon on Joy, Epiphany, 2012 January 6, 2012 Epiphany Matthew 2:1-12
Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2011 December 25, 2011 Christmas Day, 2012 Isaiah 9:2-7; Luke 2:1-20
Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 2011 December 24, 2011 The Eve of the Nativity of our Lord Luke 2:1-20

 

Sermon on Joy, Epiphany, 2012

Sermon Date:January 6, 2012

Scripture: Matthew 2:1-12

Liturgy Calendar: Epiphany


I was in the grocery store yesterday and I can’t stop thinking about a couple I saw there.  The two must have been in their sixties.  The man  was wearing a drab olive green coverall and steel toed work boots, and the woman had on dark pants and a brown jacket—nothing really that made them stand out except for the fact that they struck me as two of the unhappiest people I have ever seen.  The man carried the red shopping basket.  He looked stern and grumpy and walked a few steps ahead of the woman, who was full of dejection.  With her head at a slight angle, she kept her eyes glued to the floor.  When the man spoke to her, he barely turned his head, and she never looked up. 

My heart went out to this couple.  And I had to wonder.  What are their lives like to create such an aura of unhappiness that I could actually see their unhappiness as they walked through the aisles of the grocery store? 

The sadness in this world is why the story we have just heard matters to each and every one of us,  because this story is about coming upon the treasure of joy, a treasure just as rare and valuable as the gifts of the wise men. 

And joy is the gift that God offers to us, if only we will seek it and find it.   

As we’ve just heard in this story,

Matthew tells us that “when when the wise men saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy, and on entering the house, they saw the child with Mary, his mother.”

A light from heaven shines over an earthly home,

And when they enter this home, the wise men find a human being, yet one wrapped in a heavenly light so brilliant that their immediate response is to kneel devoutly and to worship him, because they see, with their own eyes, the brightness of God, and they experience, in that moment, the joy that lasts for an eternity. 

The  wise men were overwhelmed with joy because when they saw this child, they looked deep within the light and truth of the universe itself,  and saw there one thing–the eternal and mysterious light of God’s love, pouring out on them.

This moment in the story is why we should care about this story, because this story tells us something profound about our earthly lives and our earthly homes,

We desperately need what the wise men experienced when they realized that they had found the person they were seeking. 

The story of the wise men tells us who to seek if we have any hope at all of experiencing anything other than fleeting and elusive joys in our lives. 

My prayer for each and every one of us this year is that in our homes, we will intentionally welcome Jesus, and to find him with us, as that old quote goes, as a listener to every conversation, a guide for troubled times, and a blessing in times of Thanksgiving. 

And when we find this joy, we will find, that like the wise men, our first response is to worship.

Worshipping Jesus in our day to day lives takes forms unique to each one of us. 

Perhaps it’s waking up and praising God for a new day. 

Perhaps it’s looking out at the river as it reflects the colors of the sunrise or the sunset and finding ourselves suffused with inner peace. 

Worshipping through reading the daily office, having a discipline of prayer,

Gathering together with other Christians to praise God—

The point is that our first response to recognizing that Jesus is in our homes is to worship him.

And like the wise men, our second response is to want to give him all that we have—the very best that we have, whatever our metaphorical gold, frankincense and myrrh is—to open the treasure chests of our talents, and our gifts and to hand them over to God,

So that God can transform them for the good of God’s creatures on this earth. 

Although scripture does not tell us what happens to the gifts that the wise men give to Jesus,

St Bonadventure, who lived in the 11th century, guessed that Mary, who loved poverty, didn’t know what to do with the rare and wonderful gifts of the three kings, so she gave them to the poor. 

And my guess is that the wise men returned to their own country and their own homes not with empty treasure chests, but that when they got home and opened the chests, eternal and never ending joy poured out, God’s treasure and gift for the wise men who had sought Jesus.

When  we seek Jesus and  recognize that Jesus is in our midst, our response is to long to give all that we are, and all that we have—to Him, for God’s work here and now, in this time and place. And we receive joy in return. 

So as a summary of the truths of this story: 

If we seek Jesus in our homes, we will find Him—

that we will be filled with joy—

the joy that brings with it the desire to worship and to offer ourselves to God in every moment of every day of our lives.

Tonight I am going to bless this chalk, made from the earth itself.

Take  this chalk home and mark your doorways, as the ancient Israelites marked their doorways with blood at the Passover to keep the angel of death from entering in,

As the Israelites marked the words of God in their very hearts…

And this mark will be a reminder that God longs to give us joy in this year of 2012.

This mark will be a reminder of the joy that we can become for others, if only we will offer ourselves to God. 

“May God, who provided a safe dwelling place for the eternal Word,

Bless this chalk, for the homes of the faithful and for the people who live there, through Christ our Lord.”

With each piece of chalk is what to write on your doorway—

20 for the century, +C+M+B+12 for the year, and the initials CMB stand not only traditionally for the names of the wise men, Casper, Melchior,and Balthasar, but also for Christus Mansionem Benedicat, the Latin for May Christ Bless this House.

Please pray with me as well that Christ will somehow bless the home of that couple I saw in the grocery store—and that sometime in this year of 2012 they too will find the eternal joy that the wise men sought and found,

And let this year be the year that each one of us seeks Jesus so that we may find him in our hearts and in our homes, so that we, too, can experience the everlasting joy of the wise men.

Amen

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