January 01, 2008

Looking Ahead to January 6, 2008 -- Epiphany Sunday

The Scripture Readings this week are:
  • From the Jewish Scriptures: Isaiah 60:1-6
  • Psalm 72 (VU p. 790)
  • From the Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12

The Hymns this week are:

  • 55 In the Bleak Midwinter
  • We Three Kings (insert)
  • 74 What Child is This
  • 96 Will You Come and See the Light

This week we will celebrate the sacrament of Communion

The Sermon title is Gifts for God.

Early Thoughts: We hear this story of the visit of the Magi visit every year. WHat new thing, new message, could we possibly find in it?

There are a variety of things one can focus on in this story. You could talk about the idea of the Gentile nations coming to worship this JEwish baby (likely one of the reasons Matthew tells teh story). You could talk about the whole idea of seeking the prexence of the Holy. Epiphany itself is about the Incarnation, about God-MAde-Manifest. In fact the early church celebrated the Incarnation at Epiphany far more than at Christmas. ANd these are valid parts of the story, but there is a third sides as well.

What many of us remember most abotu the visit of the Magi is that it is about gifts. It is about people recognizing that GOd is present here and seeking to find a gift that is appropriate.

Scholars will tell us that this story never really happened. OR at least there is no sound historical basis to assume it happened. THe gifts that Matthew lists give us our idea of 3 visitors (the text never gives a number of visitors) and are highy symbolic -- Gold for a king, Frankincense for the DIvine, Myrrh to foreshadow his death and burial. But whether it happened or not the story tells a truth. Encountering God-MAde-MAnifest, meeting Immanuel, God-With-Us, calls us to respond. But amidst the glory of the story many of us may feel like the narrator in the final verse of In the Bleak Midwinter:

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart

What can we give? What do we have to lay before the manger? What can we do to help the Birth, Life, Death, and Resurrection of the Baby in the manger have an impact on the lives of ouselves, our loved ones, our world? THat is what we will explore this SUnday. But some hints may be found in songs #4 and 5 at this link

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