|Lent 4||March 26, 2017||Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year A||Ephesians 5:8-14, John 9:1-41|
|Lent 3||March 19, 2017||Third Sunday in Lent, Year A||Psalm 95, Romans 5:1-11, John 4:5-42|
|Lent 2||March 12, 2017||Second Sunday in Lent, Year A||Genesis 12:1-4a, Psalm 121, John 3:1-17|
|Lent 1||March 5, 2017||First Sunday in Lent, Year A||Matthew 4:1-11|
|Ash Wednesday||March 1, 2017||Ash Wednesday, Year A||Matthew 4:1-11|
|Last Sunday after the Epiphany||February 26, 2017||Last Sunday after Epiphany, Year A||Matthew 17:1-9|
|Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany||February 19, 2017||Seventh Sunday after Epiphany, Year A||Leviticus 19:1-2, I Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23; Matthew 5:38-48|
|Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany||February 12, 2017||Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||Deuteronomy 30:15-20; 1 Corinthians 3:1-9; Matthew 5:21-37|
|Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany||February 5, 2017||Fifth Sunday after Epiphany, Year A||Isaiah 58:1-12; Matthew 5:13-20|
|Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany – Reflections on Annual Convention, Susan Tilt||January 29, 2017||4th Sunday after the Epiphany||Matthew 5:1-12|
|Third Sunday after the Epiphany||January 22, 2017||Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||Psalm 27:1, 5-13, Matthew 4:12-23|
|Second Sunday after the Epiphany||January 15, 2017||Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||Isaiah 49:1-7, Psalm 40:1-12, John 1:29-42|
|First Sunday after the Epiphany, Baptism of Jesus||January 8, 2017||The Baptism of our Lord, Year A||The Book of Common Prayer|
|➤Epiphany||January 6, 2017||Epiphany 2017||Ephesians 3:1-12, Matthew 2:1-12|
|Christmas Day, Year A||December 25, 2016||Christmas Day, 2016||Isaiah 52:7-10, Hebrews 1:1-4, Psalm 98, John 1:1-14|
Sermon Date:January 6, 2017
Scripture: Ephesians 3:1-12, Matthew 2:1-12
Liturgy Calendar: Epiphany 2017
“Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ.”
These words from the writer of Ephesians ring down through the ages to inspire us on this cold dark night of Epiphany.
We are servants of the gospel by God’s grace.
God’s grace has touched us through our baptisms, and continues to guide every moment of our lives, whether or not we are consciously aware of that grace from moment to moment.
God’s grace has brought each one of us here tonight, just as God’s grace spoke through the appearance of a star to the wise men in a far away country over two thousand years ago.
God’s grace set the wise men on the journey of a lifetime.
God’s grace led them to Jerusalem to ask where they might find the newborn king of the Jews, and God’s grace led them to Bethlehem.
God’s grace overwhelmed them with joy when they saw that the star had stopped over the place where the child was.
Because of God’s grace, they knelt down and worshipped this child.
And God’s grace, through a dream, warned them to go home by another road instead of back to Herod.
God’s grace is always at work.
When we make the time and space available in our lives to be aware of God working in our lives, to listen for God’s voice whispering in our ears, to pay attention to the dreams that God may send, we are more likely to set out on our own journeys to put God’s grace to work out in the world, to bring to those around us “the boundless riches of Christ,” the boundless riches that have so richly blessed us.
Herod and all of those around him were physically rooted in Jerusalem. They were also rooted in a particular way of seeing things through the lens of Herod’s earthly power. Their lives were shaped by their desire to preserve things as they were, and to go to any lengths, including the slaughter of baby boys in the town of Bethlehem, to prevent any changes to the status quo that would threaten their own power and way of life.
The wise men from the East, on the other hand, were willing to leave all that was familiar and to set out on a journey, with no set destination. They simply followed the star, not knowing where it would lead.
That star worked like God’s grace in their lives. They saw it, and it called to them, and so they followed it, not knowing where they were going.
Centuries before them, Abraham set out, by faith, when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive for an inheritance and he set out, not knowing where he was going.
God’s grace, when we listen to it, calls us to set out on a journey, to trust that our journeys will take us where God plans for us to go, even when we can’t see or imagine where that is.
This day of Epiphany, the day of Eureka, the day that the wise men found what they were looking for, reminds us to set out on our own journeys so that we too, can ultimately to look into the very face of God and find ourselves forever changed.
We don’t know what happened to the wise men after their visit to the Christ child, but certainly their lives were changed. The first thing that changed was that they went back home a different way, according to God’s instructions that came to them in a dream.
Maybe God is calling us to go back to our old lives in some new way, to take some new direction in this year to come.
I hope that as the wonders of Christmas fade away and we resume the normal business of our lives, that each one of us will take time to pray and listen and dream and seek God’s grace as we consider the year ahead, both as individuals and as this church.
Howard Thurman, a twentieth century African-American theologian and writer, listened and heard these words as the world turned and the season of Christmas came to an end.
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.
God is calling each one of us, through God’s grace, to start the journey, to do the work, and to receive the riches of God’s boundless grace as we bring it to others,
to see God’s face in the faces of the lost, in the faces of the hungry, in the faces of the prisoners, in the faces of people from other nations and places–
to see God’s grace flooding through us as we carry peace like light into the world, and sing those songs of praise and thanksgiving that echo that celestial music of the angels that thrills our hearts and accompanies us along God’s grace filled way.