January 2018

Post date: Dec 26, 2017 9:56:15 PM

Dear People of God,

Throughout most of January we are in the Epiphany season. Epiphany means a revelation, a manifestation, an unveiling: something is brought to light and understood more clearly. As in, “Oh! Now I get it.” In the midst of winter darkness, Epiphany is the season of light.

Epiphany begins with the magi’s visit to the child Jesus on January 6th, after the 12 days of Christmas. Epiphany concludes with the Transfiguration of Jesus, this year on February 11th, just before Lent starts. As we go through the season of Epiphany, important things are brought to light about Jesus. On January 7th we celebrate the baptism of Jesus. As Jesus is baptized, God’s voice proclaims, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1:11. God will speak similar words from the cloud as Jesus is transfigured on the mountaintop in the presence of his disciples. “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!”

Let me back up here to an epiphany moment on New Year’s Day: the Name of Jesus. Like all Jewish baby boys in that day, Jesus was circumcised and named on his eighth day of life. What’s in a name? The name Jesus or Yeshua or Joshua, means “God saves/He saves”. The angel said to Joseph, “She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21. We begin a new calendar year in the name of Jesus who saves us from our sins.

The season of Epiphany begins with the Visitation of the Magi on January 6th. We often call them the three kings, but we don’t know that they were kings or even that there were 3 of them. Three gifts are mentioned, but the Gospel of Matthew simply says, “magi”: the plural form of the word. The wisemen or magi from the East, may have been astrologers. They did follow a star to find the baby Jesus. We often have the magi arrive on Christmas Eve with the shepherds, which is fine for Christmas pageants. But it may have actually been some time before the magi found Jesus. Matthew 2:11 says, “On entering the house (not the stable), they saw the child with Mary his mother: and they knelt down and paid him homage”. In other words, they worshiped the baby Jesus.

I’m remembering a felt banner of the wise men that my grandma hung in her house at Christmas time. One magi had light skin, one had medium brown skin and one had dark brown skin. The banner made the point that Jesus is the Savior for all peoples, all races and countries of people.

The Bible does not tell us much about the magi, because the point is not who they were, but what they reveal, what they bring to light about Jesus. The magi reveal that Jesus is for all ethnicities of people. They also reveal that Jesus is worthy of our finest gifts. The magi offered Jesus gold, frankincense and myrrh. These were precious gifts at that time and their value must have helped the holy family, when they fled to Egypt to escape the murder attempt of cruel Herod. How do we offer our gifts to Jesus today to help needy children and people in our community and world?

The magi knelt down and worshiped the baby Jesus. Although he was just a peasant baby, they were overjoyed when they found him. They worshiped Jesus, because they somehow knew that he was the Savior. We worship Jesus, because we know he is the Savior. As the familiar saying goes, “Wise men and women still seek him.”

Happy New Year and Epiphany, Pastor Dennis