Mt. 2: 1-12
This was an exciting Christmas for our family. We had one extra, very special member participating. Our 5 month old granddaughter, Tess. Of course, she was more interested in the wrapping paper that any gift that she received. and she has learned to let us know when she is displeased - her loud protests would signal that someone had rescued her from eating gift wrap or ribbons.
There was much discussion before and after Christmas about how much one should give to a 5 month old. We found that in our family there were a wide variety of options - ranging from the baby won't know - give gifts to those who will appreciate them - all the way to - the most and the best gifts are for the baby - and then there was the quickly forgiven relative who forgot all about the new baby. Like I said - it was an exciting Christmas for our family. and Baby Tess got exactly what she needed this Christmas - our love and affection.
Today we celebrate the Epiphany - the moment when God was revealed to the gentiles - as represented by the wise men who were led by the star to find the infant king.
When we look at the scripture passage for this morning we see that no ordinary gift would express the wise men's feelings of overwhelming joy. Imagine them - bowing low in homage to the infant - and then - opening their treasure chests - to find a gift that would show how their lives had been changed by coming face to face with the new king. So they gave the best gifts their chests held - frankincense, gold and myrrh.
But in fact they had already given so much more - they had given the gift of their homage - their allegiance to King Herod had been transferred to an infant - to the Son of God. By all rights, these wise men should have paid Herod homage. Instead, they only ask where they can find the new infant king of the Jews. All of the players in this political scene know what is going on - Herod is threaten by the news that others are searching for a new born king. The wise men understand this and in direct defiance of King Herod's orders they return to their own country by an other route -
It is interesting that the title of king is not applied to Herod by the last line of the passage. In this story Herod is stripped of his kingship - and a new king is named. For Jews and Gentiles, all allegiance will now be with Jesus Christ. our homage will be to the new king in our lives - the Son of God - the new born king.
I think that the hardest part of Christmas is to remember that it is not about one day in the year - it is about changing our perspective for the rest of the year. Christmas is the reminder season - the reminder that the greatest gift ever given is already ours - and the love that we know as a result of that gift is to carry us through each year and all the days of our lives. The hope of each Christmas is to meet Christ right in the midst of the excitement and the joy. In the midst of the busyness and the chaos something will grab our attention - and we too will come face to face with the Christ child.
Did that happen for you this year? Did you find that your heart was moved - did you feel the warm glow of God's love for all creation - including you?
It was there - you know it was there - but did you let it take a hold of you - did you let it catch your full attention?
If you did then you know exactly what happened to those traveling wise men - you understand exactly how their allegiance would suddenly shift to the new king.
But what if you felt as though the zany-ness of Christmas was too distracting - that the Christ Child never really entered into your heart? That happens - and it is OK. Because - the good news is - we are all included in the possibility and it is never too late. It can happen at any time.
Jesus Christ is being manifested in and throughout our lives - everyday there are opportunities to come face to face with the Christ child - with the gift of love that God has extended to us -
We come face to face with Christ when love surprises us with its depth and inclusivity. We come face to face with Christ when we witness the miracle of new life, and sometimes even when we say our last good byes. We come face to face with Christ when we let go of our own needs just for a moment, to reach out and care for another and also - when we allow ourselves to acknowledge our own need and receive care that is offered. And we know that we have found Christ when we find ourselves ready to bow down - to give our homage to God - when we praise God and trust God with our lives. When we are willing to see that grace and mercy flow endlessly throughout our lives. When just like the wise men we will want to give the perfect gift - ourselves. And our lives will begin to reflect that moment of grace.
Christmas Day may have passed - all of the gifts have been opened and enjoyed. The trees with their lights and their decorations will be dismantled and put away for another year - But the season of light and love continues. The opportunity to find ourselves face to face with the love of Christ is eternal - nothing can separate us from that reality.
Today is our celebration of God being revealed to us - an epiphany -
As we come to the Lord's Table this morning, as we share the bread and the cup, we once again will know that God is revealed to us in ordinary things as well as extraordinary celebrations. Our simple act becomes the most extraordinary - Our communion with God and all of God's wonderful and glorious creation.. Our celebration of remembrance and hope and love. Amen.