THIS is the beginning.
This is the “Ah-ha” moment
This moment of Epiphany--
Which we celebrate and read about today is where the work of Christ in the world truly begins.
We know the word “Epiphany”
It has been brought into our modern language,
and is often used to describe a “Sudden Insight”: “ah-Ha!”
And the word Epiphany in secular usage,
is also used to describe a rare occurrence.
More specifically, it was originally used to describe a rare insight or occurrence through the Divine.
In other words, an epiphany is not supposed to be an every day normal event,
But a spectacular insight:
An insight through the Divine.
An insight that God gives to us to share.
An insight that has the potential to change everything.
It’s no mistake, then, that Epiphany is the name of the Church holiday that we celebrate today.
Because today, we celebrate the moment where everything changes.
Where God brings humanity the first profound insight,
And this insight is no normal every day event, but an extremely rare occurrence.
The Gospel reading today is no stranger to us.
We know the story about Jesus’ birth,
and we know that three wise men visit the Christ child.
But that visitation is much more than three wise men merely visiting Jesus.
This visitation is an Epiphany.
It’s a rare occurrence that changes everything, and everyone present.
One of the most rare occurrences in this story is the wisemen themselves.
We often think of the wisemen as great kings--
gentle kind men who welcome the Christ child and bring great gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
But reading Matthew’s story closely, it’s clear that the wisemen are actually SPIES.
King Herod (the bad guy) sends them in search of Jesus:
To tell Herod where Jesus is.
So that Herod can ultimately kill Jesus.
These “wise” spies, head off on a journey, and it ends in a great Epiphany.
They see the Christ Child, and they are transformed and changed.
Just SEEING the tiny baby,
who cannot yet walk or talk,
they are overwhelmed and suddenly know how truly special he is.
They end up leaving Bethlehem by another road.
They are changed:
Changed so profoundly that they will not return to Herod.
They will not tell Herod where Jesus is.
Because they have experienced what they now know:
to be a rare insight through the Divine.
And not merely an insight:
They have actually EXPERIENCED the Divine—They have seen God.
The Transformation of the Wisemen isn’t the only rare occurrence that the tiny Christ child brings.
Even the stars stop moving.
The star that leads the wisemen to Jesus is suspended in one spot--
Over the place where the Christ child sleeps.
Wrap your head around that:
The stars stop moving.
Truly a rare occurrence through the Divine.
But perhaps the most incredible thing about Epiphany is that it doesn’t end with the star stopping, or the wisemen being transformed.
That is just the beginning.
Epiphany: originally meant as a rare occurrence through the divine, continues day after day:
The birth of Jesus makes it so that
what was once rare insight is not quite so rare.
Jesus continues to bring divine insight and transformation to us and to our world.
Jesus grows up to heal the sick and raise the dead—a rare occurrence
Jesus turns water into wine, and feeds thousands with only five loaves of bread—a rare occurrence
Jesus dies on the cross, and rises again in newness of life so that all of humanity can have life eternal—a rare occurrence.
And it continues today--
God is still working in our world--
still bringing Epiphany after epiphany.
But we have to look at another definition of this “Epiphany”
The visit of the wisemen to the Christ child is not only a rare occurrence.
It is also a manifestation--
meaning “an outward and visible expression”
The manifestation—the visible expression of God.
Or as the old hymn says, “God in Man made Manifest.”
Epiphany is the rare occurrence of God in visible human flesh.
God becomes one of us—an incredibly rare occurrence.
Beginning with that First Epiphany with the wisemen,
through all of the rare occurrences of Jesus’ life,
God continues to turn all of those rarities into assurances for us.
Even today, God continues to be manifest: to be visible in our world.
We see it here, every Sunday when we gather together--
When we share the Eucharistic table together—as one large family worshipping the Living God.
We see the manifestation of God right here--when young and old come together:
When age doesn’t matter.
We see the manifestation of God when we lay down our differences, and choose to respond to one another in love.
We see the manifestation of God in the eyes of our youth and children—in their laughter--
in the wondrous and hope-filled way they look at the world--
That’s the manifestation of God.
And The manifestation of God is not over.
The visible expressions and rare occurrences of God working in our world continue.
That first Epiphany of the wisemen was just the beginning.
So maybe: we need to consider those “rare occurrences”
And realize that because of God’s amazing and wondrous love,
they are now every day occurrences in our lives.
Let’s pay attention to them,
and remember that because of Christ:
the manifestation of God in our world is not quite so rare anymore.
And it is so because of the one rarest occasion of all:
Christ coming to live and die on this earth:
God becoming one of us.
So that eternal life and joy in the Christ child is an everyday visible manifestation.
Enjoy the weekly sermons at anytime.