January 6, 2019

The Epiphany


The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.
 Ps. 119:130 

What a wonderful verse to think about on the Feast of the Epiphany. Reading the Gospel According to Matthew is like a 28-chapter unfolding of the Word Incarnate, shining light on God's mighty acts in the life, death, and resurrection of Messiah. And very close to the beginning is the story of the three magi who visited him as an infant:

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” 

When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 
✧ Matthew 2:1-11 


But the story doesn't end there. Not enough is made of verse 12, which says, And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. Already in chapter 1, Matthew has told us of the power of the Christ Child to transform people and their attitudes. In Luke this was mostly about Mary, but in Matthew it was Joseph who was changed. And here in chapter 2 we see people from outside Israel not just adoring, but being changed by the Infant Jesus.

If those I call the Three Wise Men changed paths after encountering Christ, then certainly I, a simple disciple, cannot expect to keep going the same way I always have after celebrating his coming into the world.

Holy Jesus, before your infant form sages bowed the knee and acknowledged your lordship over all power and wisdom. Grant me also clear vision and courage, that in the light of your light I may devote my power and potential to your service, even when that requires me to go home by another way. Amen.
✧ Common Order, Church of Scotland (alt.) 



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