1st Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 31:7-14 & Psalm 147
This morning we celebrate the twin aspects of giving and receiving, as spiritual principles – revealed to us in the great Light of Epiphany. That sounds like a lot of gobbledy goop doesn’t it?
So let’s back up a bit. First we need to know what “epiphany” means. My dictionary says: “The manifestation of Christ to the Magi at Bethlehem.” “the appearance or manifestation of a divinity.” So this very special time of the visit of the wise men from afar, having been led to the birth place of Jesus by the Light of a star, this special event is called Epiphany. They understand this holy birth as a becoming, a manifestation of the Divine – an appearance of God in human form, right here in Bethlehem.
And they are so in awe of this event, so grateful for this amazing embodiment, that they bring appropriately precious gifts: gold and myrrh and frankincense. And they mark the occasion with their difficult and arduous journey, and they worship this divine being, this Jesus child. Wise and perceptive as they are, they recognise the danger this holy child is in from the paranoia of the king, and so they go back to their homes by a different way.
Gifts. We are surrounded by God’s great gifts to us, aren’t we? The very air we breathe, the precious water that we drink, the love we share with one another, the beauty of nature and it’s intricate web of life without which we could not survive on this planet. And the appropriate response to gifts is gratitude.
When we truly understand the magnitude of the gifts we have been given, then we can respond in all humility with gratitude appropriate to the wonder, the power, and the generosity of our God.
And what about this gift of Epiphany? This gift of God Incarnate, God-with-us, this gift of Jesus the Christ. Without this gift our descent into darkness, into brutality and evil, seemed to be assured. God works in mysterious ways, and we needed a Good Shepherd, we needed someone to lead us on a better path, a Way of love and peaceful communities, a way of justice and mercy. Jesus was the gift. God in human form.
But that couldn’t last, could it? Our human bodies are not immortal. But Jesus did not leave us rudderless. He taught us about the Holy Spirit, the Counsellor, the Comforter, who would guide us and never leave us, so that the Way of Love would live on and prosper through our bodies as a kind of Dance with the Spirit. We are grateful, and our joyful dance is our response as we accept this gift.
Hymn #156 MV “Dance with the Spirit”
2nd Scripture Reading: Matthew 2:1-12, John 1: 1-18
Hymn #87 VU “I am the Light of the World”
Hymn #60 VU “O Come All Ye Faithful”