December 30, 2008

Looking Forward to January 4, 2009 -- Epiphany Sunday

This Sunday we hear again the Epiphany story-the visit of the Magi. We will also be celebrating communion. Following the service we will "de-decorate" from Christmas.

The Scripture Readings for this Sunday are:
  • From the Jewish Scriptures: Isaiah 60:1-6
  • Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14 (VU p.790 Parts 1 & 2)
  • From the Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12
The Hymns for this Sunday are:
  • 91 The First Nowell
  • We Three Kings (insert)
  • 74 What Child is This
  • 481 Sent Forth by God’s Blessing
The Sermon title is Bringing What Gifts?

Early Thoughts: If got caught up in the procession of the Magi what would we have to offer the baby? In the present what gifts do we have to share as part of our call to be agents of God in the world?

As I sit here this morning I have 2 songs running through my head. One tells the tale of a poor boy caught up with some strangers visiting a new-born king. And when he gets there he feels inadequate because "I am a poor boy too...I have no gift to bring...That's fit to give a king...". The other is the final verse of Christina Rosetti's hymn In the Bleak Mid-Winter:
What shall I bring 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
The Epiphany story is one about sharing gifts. It tells of strangers from the East, the Magi, who come bearing precious (and symbolic) gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. It highlights many possible themes and sermon questions (which is good since it comes up every year). Why have these non-Jews come to see the baby? What do we do about Herod's response to "the one who is born the King of the Jews"? And also this year's question, the same one asked by the little drummer boy. What gift do I have?

The word Epiphany means God-Made-Manifest. It calls us to be open to how God is active and visible in our world. And as people of faith we are called to respond to the presence of God. In Matthew's story the response was to offer those strange gifts. Our response should be to offer our gifts. But what gifts?

Over the years I have heard many people claim that they have no gifts to share. Mind you they usually say that while very busy sharing their gifts. It is my firm belief that we all have something to share. And I also believe that what we have to share can (usually does) change over the course of our lives. The challenge is two-fold. One to figure out what those gifts are. The other is to be able to name them as gifts and not "just something I do".

This Sunday we will discuss a bit more about our gifts, about naming them, about sharing them, about discovering them. And maybe then we will join the Drummer Boy in offering what seems a small gift and be met with the smile of God. Pa-rum-pa-pa-pum, rum-pa-pa-pum, rum-pa-pa-pum...

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