The Epiphany of Our Lord
With overflowing joy, the Church of Jesus Christ, celebrates today the feast of His glorious Epiphany.
Epiphany is the feast of light. Originally, this feast celebrated all the ways that our Lord revealed His glory, showing that he was indeed “God of God, Light of light, very God of very God.” Epiphany gathered into one celebration our Lord’s birth, the visit of the Magi and the mysterious star, Jesus’ Baptism, and the miracle of Cana. Gradually across the centuries, the other events spun off to their own feasts, leaving for this day just the Wise Men and the star.
Perceptively, Luther noted that the star didn’t actually get the job done. It announced to those ancient stargazers that a king had been born to the Jews. But it didn’t tell them where to find Him. Using human reason, they trotted off to the logical spot, Jerusalem, only to find business as usual and no one celebrating the birth of a king.
Nature, and even a miracle such as this star, only gets you so far. The Scriptures, however, can get you all the way to where the child may be found. King Herod asked the scribes about the ancient prophecy, and they answered from Micah: “In Bethlehem of Judea.” That’s where the promised king would be born when He came. With the prophecy tucked into their hearts, the Magi journeyed toward the city of David. And suddenly the star they had seen when it rose reappeared, and this time it led the way to the house where the child and His mother were found.
There the visitors from the east opened their gifts and gave the child gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Long has the Church seen in these presents a mysterious confession. God confesses the child to be a king. Frankincense confesses Him to be God Himself in our flesh. And myrrh? That is the oddest gift, for it confesses His death: He came to be a sacrifice, to offer His life on our behalf.
The Church rejoices on Epiphany at the way God threw open the door of His grace to Gentiles, to non-Jews, as the Magi are traditionally regarded. For the Christ Child is King of all people, not just God’s ancient people! He is God come in the flesh to battle the enemies of the entire human race. The sacrifice He will over is in exchange for every human. When the Magi kneel before Him in worship, they are but the very first of countless non-Jews who will fall before Him century after century.
Did they have the experience so many have had in all those years? That while they offered Him gifts, the feeling that the gift exchange was all backward? He had come to offer them and us the true and lasting gifts: His embrace, His welcome, His forgiveness and love. Here is the light that shines more brightly than the miraculous star. Here is the light of divine love shining from the face of Mary’s Son.
O God, by the leading of a star You made known Your only-begotten Son to the Gentiles. Lead us, who know You by faith, to enjoy in heaven the fullness of Your divine presence; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
William Weedon Celebrating the Saints 14-15