Feast of Epiphany – Sermon 260

Feast of the Epiphany

10.00am CW Holy Communion

3rd January 2016

Bible References :

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Prayer to start 

 

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ                  AMEN

 

INTRODUCTION

 

“When the sun sets,

The stars shine – with no regrets.

Darkness fills the air,

The moon gives light with every care.

The darkness is easier to walk through,

Every light shining is so pure and true.

Guidance forever are the stars in the sky,

With them we find our places lifted so high.”

 

Epiphany is sometimes known as the season of the stargazers

 

After Easter – its the second oldest season in the Christian church year –

 

Started in the Eastern churches – as a feast to mark the Baptism of Christ – it was later linked with Jesus’ first miracle in Cana in Galilee – and then Jesus’ revelation as a baby to the Magi or the 3 Wise Men

 

Epiphany means – “showing forth” – or the “manifestation” of Christ’s true nature to the world-

 

it also means – appearing – bringing something to light – making visible what was once unseen or hidden –and all these interpretations  – appear in our readings this morning  –

 

Point 1        Isaiah’s wake up call

 

Isaiah’s message for Epiphany – is about the coming of a new light – – a light to overcome the darkness in this world –

 

“Arise, shine, for your light has come” – and the Glory of the Lord has risen upon you” – for darkness has covered the earth – but Nations shall come to your light”

 

Isaiah is giving God’s people a wake up call – telling them its time to get up – and get going –to start living as God wants us to live! –

 

The People in Jerusalem – had seen some hard times – wars – unjust rulers – destruction of their city –

 

But Isaiah – reminds them – that in the midst of all this doom and gloom – we have a faithful–caring and powerful God – who will provide us with a new start – a new beginning – that will deliver His promised salvation –

 

God is gathering His people out of the darkness- towards Himself – through His church – encouraging us to shine – so that the light of our faith –can be made visible for all to see –

 

Lights shine in dark places – and we must all shine like beacons- guiding people to God–

 

In this passage we also see Isaiah’s prophecy – of the day when the wise men or Magi came seeking the light of the world – when the Gentiles too worshiped God –

 

Many people call Epiphany the “Gentile Christmas” – because of what happened when the 3 Kings visited Jesus –

 

Jesus the light of God – has broken into the world – in a way that is visible to all people –and He calls us to come alive – be transformed – to live as He lives  – and to transform others

 

Point 2        A plan revealed

 

And – the coming of this great light was no accident –

 

As Paul reminds us in our NT reading – it’s all part of an extraordinary secret plan that God had intended from the very beginning –which has been hidden for years – and which God was now able to reveal – to the world –

 

Paul is writing his letter from a Prison in Rome to the Gentiles in Ephesus – telling them – that he has been sent specifically to them by God – and that he was arrested because the Jews persecuted him for it–

 

God has drawn up a blueprint for his world-wide family – to bring the Gospel – to both the Jewish and non-Jewish people – and on equal terms – and this blueprint has at its heart- His Son Jesus Christ.

 

Most of God’s people – had thought that their present calling – to be His holy people and keep his law – the Jewish Law – would remain central to God’s plan –

 

But this was never intended to be the case –

 

The teachings and Love of Jesus – have superseded the Jewish Law – and through Jesus’ life and death and resurrection – God has now accomplished His plan of salvation for all

 

Those who follow Jesus – will become fellow members of the one body – and will have equal share in the promises God has made to His people Israel – through Abraham and the other prophets

 

God has promised His people Israel – great things – and through His Son Jesus – He will bring those great privileges to everyone who has faith in Jesus

 

And faith in Jesus – is at the heart of our Gospel reading – as we move from a vision – and a plan – to the beginnings –

Point 3  The coming of the wise men

 

But not the sort of beginnings we might have expected for a new message – or direction – from God- for all mankind – to emerge –

 

a tiny baby born in a stable – to a poor young couple – and lying in a manger –with just a handful of animals and visitors – to witness the event

 

Our reading tells the story of the coming of the 3 Star gazers or Wise Men – guided to Jesus by a unique star – in the night sky –

 

And even when the three kings arrive – looking for the child – they were perplexed – to find that no one knew what they were talking about – not even the king of the country –

 

But when they finally found Him – and saw the child with Mary his mother – they paid homage –  and left their gifts of Gold – Frankincense and Myrrh:

 

The gold symbolizing Jesus’ Kingship – the incense– His priesthood – and the myrrh – his suffering to come –

 

Jesus would grow strong and avoid the cruel hands of Herod – but even at the height of His ministry – and teaching – the majority of the world’s population – would still be oblivious to His existence –

 

But the three wise men knew something Herod – would never know – that the child before them would one day rule the world –

 

Today – there is a little saying that is sometimes displayed – on church notice boards – or car windscreens

 

‘Wise men still seek Him’

 

It would have been easy for the wise men – to give up on their search – It must have been a long and arduous journey – through unfriendly terrain –

 

Yet they kept on searching and trusting God – until finally they came to the place where the child lay –

 

Today there many still searching to find Jesus –There is so much in the world that seems to contradict – the God of Love – that some have not yet begun their search to find Him –

 

Like the wise men – we too need to keep searching for Jesus – and encouraging other to do so too –

 

if we have the courage to keep on seeking – persevering on our journey – we will reach our destination –

 

And when we arrive find our questions answered – and like the three wise men – glimpse for ourselves the wonder of God – revealed in Jesus –

 

Conclusion

 

As Isaiah reminds us – this season of Epiphany is about – the coming of a new light into the darkness of this world – a light given through the presence and power of Jesus Christ

 

“You will see it – and be radiant – your heart will thrill and rejoice”

 

Whenever Jesus comes into our lives – there is a transformation – a new quality of life – a new Joy – will you worship and follow Him and let this new king – new message from God – change your life and future forever.

 

If there is one star that we all need to be guided by – it’s Jesus Christ –

 

Prayer to Finish

 

AMEN