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Homily – Feast of the Epiphany, January 3/4, 2009

January 4, 2009

Gospel/Homily Stream (sorry – too smart for myself by half.  I made the mp3 before I split the Gospel and Homily parts.  The Gospel ends about 2:45 into the stream, if you don’t enjoy my melodious voice that much…)

Get it?

According to the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, an epiphany is described as, “a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.”  We use the word often in the English language to refer to those “Aha!” moments, when something that we just couldn’t figure out becomes clear to us.

Our “epiphanies” are those moments when we “get it” about something, and they come about all kinds of things, big things, like the love of our life, and small things, like the solution to the Jumble puzzle in the newspaper.  Epiphanies happen to us all the time.  And when our “epiphany” comes, when we “get it” about something, we want to share it, don’t we?

The Gospel today, from Matthew, pulls together several threads from the prophets in explaining the Magi’s visit to Bethlehem to find Jesus.  And a couple of things are interesting, I believe, about this story.  First, who is it that’s even looking for this new King of the Jews?  A bunch of pagan astronomers!  Who missed it?  Everyone else!  The very people for whom Christ was coming missed the event entirely!

Second, where did this blessed event take place?  In a little back-water suburb of Jerusalem, Bethlehem!  The Magi went to the palace in Jerusalem, thinking that surely the new King they were seeking would be there; but nope!  They were led, first by a prophecy, and then by the star, to a little stable in a little town down the hill.

Finally, what happened to the Magi once they’d seen the Christ Child?  They were the first Gentile believers in Christ’s kingship; they prostrated themselves and did Him homage”.  They were open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit; they “departed for their country by another way” when they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod.  And they took the word of Christ’s birth away with them, out into the world, as the very earliest heralds!

We’re like the Magi in many ways, brothers and sisters.  One way or another, we all followed something to get here.  Whether it was the guidance of our parents, or the result of deep study and prayer on our own, we have all followed the light of faith into this church building, into this community, into the Body of Christ.

Many of us were unsure what we’d find when we arrived, but we came anyway.  Some of us searched first in the wrong place; where we were made sense to us, given what we knew then, but it turned out that we’d missed the mark somehow.  And when that “sudden, intuitive perception or insight” about Christ came to us, it changed everything for us!

Frankly, others among us, including myself, were more like the people of Judea.  Like the priests, and the members of Herod’s court, we totally missed Christ at first.  Maybe it was because everything was so routine.  Or maybe it was just that we weren’t looking for anything major to happen in our lives; church was one of those many habits that we honored (more or less, depending on how we felt on Sunday), but it was No Big Deal.  We saw no Star.  We were not aware of any King.  Life is just…life, and we just live it.  No earth-changing “perceptions here…”

But oh, brothers and sisters:  when our Epiphany comes, what a difference it makes!

Whether Herod and his lackeys knew it or not, Christ was born in Bethlehem.  Whether they paid any attention or not, something HUGE happened down the hill in Bethlehem.

And whether we choose to believe it or not, Christ is our Lord and Savior!  Whether we choose to acknowledge him or not, Christ died, and is risen, and Christ will come again!  And when we begin got embrace this truth, life will be different for us!

Does this mean that we won’t sin?  Does this mean that we won’t fall short sometimes?  No!  But when we encounter Christ, really encounter Christ, we will be changed!  And we will be able to follow “another way home” like the Magi did!

And it isn’t just a one-time thing, y’all!  Christ is constantly revealing Himself to us, in different ways!  And we should be constantly seeing new and different things about Christ, about our relationship with Him and with one another, which lead us closer to Him!

Even if we “get it”, there is always more to see, more to learn, more to “get”!  Every day can bring a new Epiphany for us, if we are just watching for it!

Epiphany: a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.

The Magi had their Epiphany when they arrived at the stable.  “They saw the child with Mary His mother.  They prostrated themselves and did Him homage.”  They “got it”.

Some of us have already had an epiphany.  And life is different already for those folks.  Some of us have already started to “get it”.

Some of us are still seeking.  And we’ll get there, if we continue to watch for the Star.  We’ll get there, if we continue to look for the signs that point the way.  We’ll get there, if we let the Holy Spirit lead us.  We’ll get there, if we get out of our own way, and allow ourselves to “get it”.

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