Sunday, January 6, 2013

epiphany

The wise men listened to the king and then went on their way to Bethlehem. And now the star, which they had seen in the east, went in front of them as they travelled until at last it shone immediately above the place where the little child lay. The sight of the star filled them with indescribable joy.
     So they went into the house and saw the little child with his mother Mary. And they fell on their knees and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts—gold, incense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:9-12 JBP)


Today is the Feast of the Epiphany and, depending on your tradition, the season that follows.  The word epiphany comes from the Greek word epiphancia, which can be translated both as coming and as manifestation, or appearing.  While Christmas is the season that celebrates the event of Christ's coming in the incarnation, Epiphany celebrates the manifestation(s) of that coming.  Thus Epiphany is a feast and a season in which we see the Christ.  It is a season in which we must pay special attention; a season in which we must keep our eyes open for the ways and the times and the places Jesus is revealed both to us and in us.  It is a season of seeing and recognizing.

The scriptural focus for the Feast of the Epiphany is the coming of the wise men to see the newborn King (Matthew 2:1-12).  It is a passage about seeing...seeing a star, seeing the Child, seeing the glory of God.  The wise men saw the star, it is what guided them to the house.  Was it because they were told about it?  Was it because they most likely were astronomers and would've been trained to notice such a thing?  Or was it simply because they were paying attention?  I'm sure many others must've noticed it as well.  Or maybe they didn't.  Maybe they were so occupied, and preoccupied, with their own lives and problems and ambitions and worries, that this strange appearance in the night sky slipped by them completely.  Who knows?  All we do know is that these three men saw the star, and for some reason it filled them with indescribable joy.  Why?  Because they must've know that this great sight was indeed leading them to a great hope.  So they followed the moving star to the place where they would see their Savior.  During this season, it might do us good to pay attention to the things that seem oddly out of place; to people or conversations or circumstances that might be much more than they appear on the surface.  They might actually be things that are trying to lead us to (reveal to us) the Savior as well.

Once these wise men came to the house, they saw the Child.  And when they saw the Child they were overwhelmed; so much so that they fell on their knees and worshipped him.  Why?  Can you imagine, worshipping a newborn baby?  But this was no ordinary babe in swaddling clothes, it was the God of the universe come to earth; to a lowly stable, to an unknown young couple, in the most humble circumstances you could imagine.  What an entrance?  It is almost as if God was trying to slip into His world unnoticed, except by those who were watching and waiting and longing for His arrival.

And I love the last line, after they worshipped Him they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts.  It is funny that this is the response worship usually elicits.  When were are completely captured by the beauty and holiness, and awe and wonder of a person or an experience or a moment, we open our treasures to them.  It is woven into the very fabric of our being.  It is what we were created to do.  Unfortunately I can often open my treasures to people or experiences or moments that are not truly worthy of that offering; in fact only God is.  So, during this day and this season how will I open my treasures to the only One who is truly worthy of them?  What does that look like each day?  And how will I treasure Him...with my time and my energies and my affections and my efforts?

I pray that both this day and this season will be filled to overflowing with His presence, His peace, and His joy, as we keep our eyes open for the many ways He will be revealed to us and in us in the days ahead.

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