Posted by on Jan 3, 2021 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Called to Live our Faith

Dear Lord…as we read and consider the events of the 12th day after the birth of your Son, Jesus, speak to us. How can we also find wonder in many of the events and happenings in our world now? How can we live our faith in your world? Thank you for your guidance of us as we work to be your disciples.

Our gospel for this Sunday is from Matthew 2:1-12 and is the story of the Wise Men visiting the baby Jesus and his parents. In fact, this is typically called Epiphany Sunday….as it is celebrated 12 days after the birth of Christ. Some call this celebration “Twelfth Night”. However, it refers to the same event.

I have always been interested in this story and in the aspect of “epiphany”. Without researching it extensively, I knew that that word means a “light shines” to bring realization of an amazing event. So…I did a little research on that word. Epiphany means the appearance of a divine being…according to the Webster dictionary. To further bring depth to this word, it can also mean grasping reality through a striking, simple event or an illuminating discovery or realization.

So, what contributed to the epiphany of this story? Let’s look a little further at the story. We have heard many times about the star that the wise men saw in the east. No one has a good explanation for what that “star” really was. Was it a comet? Was it the coming together of two stars or as we know now, two planets (as we experienced just a few days ago)? Whatever it was, the star caught the attention of some men who were intelligent men who interpreted dreams through studying the stars.

The movement of this star caught the imagination of the wise men who started to follow it. They were probably from Babylon where Jews also lived. They were intrigued as in their studies, they found that stars were often seen at the birth of powerful men, as told in the prophets writings read in the temple. They assumed that this star would be seen because of the birth of the king of the Jews.

So…they stopped to talk with the ruler, Herod, out of courtesy and wondering where the king of the Jews was located so they could pay homage to him. Of course, this rattled Herod as he was scared of losing his power and called all of the people around him to find out where the place of birth had been prophesied. It was then, that Herod found out that the event would be happening in Bethlehem…the land of Judah. This person would be the shepherd for Israel. This also connected the birth of the Messiah with King David of the previous history of this people.

Herod was ruthless and not to be trusted. He sent the wisemen off and told them to return when they had found this king. He talked with the wisemen in secret as he was also paranoid about what they would find. His rule was in jeopardy. Jesus’ birth had now drawn political attention that wasn’t of the most positive attention.

The wisemen found the baby…by following the star and where it stopped. After giving gifts to the baby and honoring the parents, they were told by an angel to not go back to Herod’s palace.

because of impending dangers. But what they did experience was that Jesus was fully God and fully man. It was an epiphany for them, too.

It appears to me that both the shepherds who visited the family and the wise men had experienced something they could not keep to themselves. I can just imagine that when they left the family, they didn’t stay silent about what they had seen. They had an epiphany about this baby and told others. What we see is the time that the news of Jesus was not kept silent…but was shared with all people….Jews and Gentiles alike.

Can you imagine what Mary and Joseph were thinking? Here they were in a strange land, in a less than organized place for giving birth. They had had a visit from some shepherds who had been told about this child. They now had been visited by three intelligent, wealthy men who left them very expensive gifts. Not at all what they expected to be experiencing when this baby was born. They were experiencing everything that really wasn’t what we would call “normal”.

Not only that, but right after the wisemen left them, an angel told Joseph that they must escape to Egypt for their safety as Herod was planning to kill all children from birth to two years old. So, they left for the safety of Egypt.

You ask…why do you bring this up? Well…in the year we have been living, we have not been experiencing what we would call a “normal life”…based on our long-established “traditions”. Many of us couldn’t be with our families for Christmas as well as for nine months preceding this day. Most of us have not been able to hug our friends, our grandchildren, our family. We have not been able to gather for our “normal” coffee sessions to share with others and are missing those times and the conversations.

So…what will it be like when we have been vaccinated and can again gather with people? Will we return to what we “always did”? Are we really being asked to think of our normal as an experience with a change? Are we being challenged to live the faith we believe we have? Are we being called to accept something “new” in words and actions since we have observed and experienced areas of need in ourselves and others?

How did you come to believe in Jesus? When was your “epiphany” of the fact that Jesus was with you and loved you as you were/are? Was it through the actions of a friend or a relative? Regardless…you accepted the truth of God’s love and salvation for us all. You have seen again this year that Jesus came to live with all of us in our hearts and in our homes. How can we reflect this renewed belief in our daily lives? How can we reflect in our actions that Jesus is with us and is always a part of our lives. How can we reflect that we have accepted His sacrifice and believe in the power given to us by the Holy Spirit? How will our actions and words reflect our faith? Yes…in a way it is an epiphany that we realize every time we celebrate our Lord and Savior and we are being called to action.


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