Feast of Epiphany
Feast of Epiphany
January 5, 2020
[SING] “We three kings of Orient are, bearing gifts we traverse afar…O star of wonder, star of night”
Nice song, but it’s probably not exactly true. First of all, we really don’t know if there were three or thirty-three, at least not from the gospel. Matthew just said “the magi;” He didn’t say how many. And Matthew is the only of the gospel authors who included a story of the kings…or magi…which really aren’t kings at all. They were more readers of the starts, fortune tellers from the east. He is even pretty vague about where they came from and to where they returned, just “from the east.” And the gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh? Not very practical gifts for a baby, but symbolic - of kingship, deity and death. And if the star was leading them, why did they go to Jerusalem first and not Bethlehem? And would a king as wicked as Herod really entrust the search for this feared, child-enemy of his to some strangers from another land? - Could it be, like so many of our popular movies, simply be “based upon a true story?” Or does this story fall under the “all stories are true; some of them actually happened” category?
We could spend a whole lot of time and energy discerning the historical accuracy of the story told on this Feast of the Epiphany – or – we could simply ask: “So what?!” Because as this celebration of Christmas unfolds week after week, feast after feast, “So what?” might indeed be a more pertinent question. In fact, the “so what” is what whole Incarnational story is about – that God comes in the most unexpected of ways and times and circumstances.
Born a child to common parents, not royalty. Not in the shining splendor of Jerusalem (where everything important happened) but in Bethlehem (where nothing important happened). The birth was announced to a few shepherds and celebrated, not in the leadership circles of the Jews but by visitors of a foreign land. The family feared for their lives and hid out in a foreign land; the child destined to be the Savior of the world and yet we know virtually nothing about his early days. Not a good way to begin a life that would become the most-told story of all ages. Jesus the Christ would choose to be fully preset to the world in Bread and Wine! This is, clearly, a story about the unexpected - and the unfinished.
So, if we think we’ve got God figured out, we don’t; God continues to reveal his glory with every act of creation. If we are so sure of his will in our lives, we are kidding ourselves; we will only fully know God’s will when our story is finished. If we say we understand his ways, we lying; his ways are not our ways. If we think God has revealed himself to us and not to others, we are mistaken; God’s bigger than that. If we think the story is done, it isn’t; it’s just beginning.
In the poetry of the unexpected, in songs of our deepest sorrows and in the most splendid delights, in mysteries beyond our imagination and in the tiniest movements of reconciliation, in the simplicity of a smile and the strength of a handshake, in the courage with which we face challenges and in celebrating undeserved victories…the Light will shine, God will be present. Every day. Every year. Generation after generation. Within people we least expect and in places most unlikely, we will encounter the Light once again.
Just ask the Three Kings. Or the thirty-three. I guess we’ll never know for sure. So what?