The Epiphany Jan. 6, 2019

Title:The Epiphany Jan. 6, 2019

 Epiphany, Jan. 6, 2019 (full size gallery)

Today was the beginning of Epiphany, the season until March 6 and Lent. It’s about God’s light for all peoples. The light image is significant. The word used for the “East” in the Gospel , really means “the rising,” that is, the rising of the sun.

The rising of the sun in the East readily suggests the imagery of light, which is often associated with salvation in the Bible. The Epiphany readings are here

The English word “Epiphany” comes from the Greek word epiphaneia, which means “appearing” or “revealing.” Epiphany focuses on God’s self-revelation in Christ, the gradual unveiling of Christ’s identity. Epiphany celebrates the twelfth day of Christmas, the coming of the Magi to give homage to God’s Beloved Child.

The Epiphany celebration remembers the three miracles that manifest the divinity of Christ. The celebration originated in the Eastern Church in AD 361, beginning as a commemoration of the birth of Christ. Later, additional meanings were added – the visit of the three Magi, Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River with the voice from heaven that identifies Jesus as God’s son, and his first miracle at the wedding in Cana. These three events are central to the definition of Epiphany, and its meaning is drawn from these occurrences.

It can applied to Old Testament Events. Isaiah 60:1-6 applies the promise of Isaiah 49:7-23 to the situation after the exile. The returned Israelites found their land devastated, depopulated and impoverished. The task of rebuilding was slow and difficult. In this setting of discouragement, the epiphany (manifestation) of God is shown forth by the Lord’s active presence in historical events, symbolized by the dawning of light. Jerusalem’s children and wealth will return, and all nations will gather at the Lord’s altar. The imagery of this passage influenced Matthew’s account of the magi.

A beautiful Sunday with full sunlight which created beautiful shades of color on the back wall. We had 41 to witness this. We celebrated Betty’s and Marilyn’s birthday. We were fortunate that Marilyn brought her harp to play during Communion. And after the service there was potluck coffee hour. Ham and cheese based recipes were in full force.

The church was drenched in light from the Moravian star, to the vota candles in the windows and to the altar candles. From the Isaiah 60 , “Arise shine for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” The readings are here as is the bulletin.

The “First Nowell”, sung at Communion has the following lyric:

“And by the light of that same star
three wise men came from country far;
to seek for a king was their intent,
and to follow the star wherever it went.”

The Epiphany Eucharistic prayer, especially written for this service, probably provided the main idea of the service. Christ is the light of the world that came at Christmas and now beckons us to travel with Him in 2019. The story of the Epiphany is about discovery—following a star to the source of salvation.Epiphany is filled with unexpected revelations that change our minds and ways – we have to be willing to experience them.

“Bright shining God, inner light of all faithful souls,
we celebrate your gifts of light, love, and all of creation.
We rejoice that you have made us in your image, and touched all of creation with the light of your love.
You call us to live in your limitless love.”

The Magi who had visited Christ realized they had to take a new route home. At a critical moment in their journey, they realized what the lyrics of that song say: “Today is where your book begins. The rest is still unwritten.” Changing direction.

They realized they had witnessed a once in a lifetime event. Poet Malcolm Guite wrote “I love the way they loved and followed a star, but didn’t stop at the star, but rather let the star lead them to something beyond itself. Surely that is a pattern for all wise contemplation of nature whether in art or science.”.. “Here is an Epiphany, a revelation, that the birth of Christ is not one small step for a local religion but a great leap for all mankind.”

The the grace of God filled those involved in the Epiphany story, the magi, the Holy Family. Our role is extend to it, searching out the possibilities.

From the Eucharistic Prayer – “With each new day, you call us to feed the hungry, bring recovery of sight to the blind, liberate the oppressed, heal the broken hearted and bind up their wounds, and keep watch for the dawn of your reign on this earth. ”

The sermon considered gifts that are brought for us this new year.

“Open the gifts that the wisemen have brought to you. What?

“Yes, the wisemen come bearing gifts, not just for the child Jesus, but also for us.

“These rare and rich gifts, when we open them and use them, prepare us to receive the gifts that the Christ child himself will offer to us as his own story unfolds, and when we use them, we also find ourselves kneeling and worshiping him.

“The gifts of observation, and the gifts of listening, beautifully wrapped, sat waiting for everyone to arrive the next day.

“And then we arrived for Bible Study for the third gift – joy.

“The new year had come, and we were once more gathered in his name, and Jesus was in our midst, to help us once more truly see God’s hand at work in the world around us, to feel a sense of joy and wonder in all of God’s works, and to rejoice in the company of one another, to be able to truly listen to one another and to love one another as God has loved each of us.”