December 27, 2009

Looking Ahead to January 3, 2009 -- Sunday Closest to Epiphany

The Festival of Epiphany is the end of the Christmas Season (which is of course 12 Days long, just as the song suggests). On Epiphany Day (January 6) we tell the story of the visit of the Magi. HOwever, since most United Church congregations are not in the habit of having mid-week worship services, it has become customary to tell this story on the Sunday preceding January 6.

As Epiphany Sunday marks the beginning of a new Liturgical season we will be sharing the sacrament of communion.

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

The Hymns this week are:
  • 74 What Child is This
  • We Three Kings (insert)
  • MV#162 Christ Within Us Hidden (insert)
  • 468 Let Us Talents and Tongues Employ

The Sermon Title is Why Pay Homage?

Early Thoughts: Why bow the knee? Why bring tribute to a foreign king?

Why indeed? To North American ears the idea of paying homage or bowing down before or paying tribute to anyone seems to go against the grain. It speaks of power over, of classism, it goes against the egalitarian ideal on which our democracy is said to be founded (it really isn't founded on such an ideal but that is a whole other topic).

Scholars believe that Matthew wrote his story of the Magi visit with these passages in his head, or even on scrolls in front of his eyes. But they have value apart from that story. What is the message they have for us in 2010?

These are passages of hope. They speak of a wondrous king who will be adored by all of the peoples of the world. They speak of one whose wisdom and jsutice and mercy will lead all people to bow down before his [sic] majesty.

The whole bow down before God's Majesty imagery has fallen into disfavour in the mainline church, mainly for the reasons listed above. But there is something there to recover. We need to recover the MAjesty of God to do what is not posible for us on our own. WE need to recover that sense of awe-some-ness when we encounter God made present in our lives. WE need to recover the vision of what a truly great leader can be.

Epiphany means God-Made-Manifest. Bowing down in homage and wonder seems an appropriate response after all.

1 comment:

  1. Gord - yes! Love this. I have a friend who was struggling in her prayer lifea nd someone suggested that she try kneeling and addressing god as God Almighty (both uncomfortable to her for the reasons above) but it worked for her, as a reminder that there was much she was trying to control that she could be turning over to God.