Epiphany, 2019

“The Glory of God’s Light”

Isaiah 60:1-6 & Matthew 2:1-12

Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

            I like to sleep in the dark…and I mean dark. What I don’t like is when one of my children, and these days it happens to be Luke, decides that “its morning time” and everyone needs to wake up…and that means…before anyone is ready (by anybody I mean me) Luke flips on the light switch. And I’m blinded. Turn that light off! When the light scatters the darkness momentary blindness ensues. Maybe there should be a warning like that of many mothers who warn children not to look directly at the sun.

          Yet today we celebrate Epiphany. We celebrate the light that breaks the darkness. We celebrate a birth that is so important Magi from the East come searching for the newborn King following a star; following a special light that leads them to Christ.

          This day we celebrate the Light that broke the darkness of sin in this world. A Light that this sinful world was blinded by. A Light that King Herod wanted to extinguish forever.

          In the cathedral of Cologne one can see the Shrine of the Three Kings. Visitors are told that their number was three; that their names were Caspar, Balthazar, and Melchoir; that Caspar was from Tarsus, Balthazar from Ethiopia, and Melchoir from Arabia. But Scripture tells us nothing of that–no names, no place of origin. All they tell us is this:

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.'”

 (Matthew 2:1-2)

          The Magi had seen the star. They were given a sign. They were given their Aha moment; their own Epiphany. Scripture is silent as to how these Magi knew that the star was evidence that a king had been born. In my head it plays out in a similar fashion to one of my favorite “Aha” moments recorded in the Blues Brothers when Jake Elwood goes to church and hears James Brown preaching and asking “have you seen the light.” And Jake does see the light as it rests upon him and makes him glow…and that Aha moment…the band. Were getting the band back together.

          In the spirit of the Blues Brothers and Epiphany I ask you… Have you seen the light? Have you seen the light of Christ? It’s a blinding light that cuts to our heart and exposes our sin. It’s a blinding light that our sinful nature wants to block out and hide from. It’s a Light that darkness cannot overcome. It’s a forgiving Light. It’s a life giving Light.

          This light isn’t found looking up at the clouds or the sun the moon or the stars. This light doesn’t fall upon you making you glow as it comes in through the window of a Church. This light comes in very bland packaging; just like it did for the Magi. Yes, they followed an extraordinary and miraculous star…but the true light which they sought wasn’t found in that star. That light was found in the same place we find the light…in a lowly manger. And that light which came so many years ago is found in this place. In a book, in a font, in simple bread and wine. For the Light of the World is Christ…the very Word made flesh.

          “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.” 

(Isaiah 60:1-3, 6)

          Our Light has come. Christ has been born. Nations came to see the light of Christ in the Magi. They brought gifts worthy of a king: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Yet they received something far more valuable: they received the gift of Jesus.

          Dear brothers and sisters in Christ that same gift is here for you. Often we take the gifts of God for granted. Yet our Heavenly Father keeps giving and blessing us. Every week our Lord is found here. Every week God blesses us with His Word. Every week our Lord gives us Himself in with and under the bread and wine. God is always faithful. He remains faithful to the promise He makes to us in Baptism. He remains faithful in forgiving our sins and remembering our sins no more. he remains faithful in giving us strength to overcome this world. He does so week after week in this place… even when we don’t understand; even when we doubt what is going on, even when we think it’s boring or mundane.

          Come to the altar again this day. May your eyes be opened to the extraordinary miracle that is taking place as your receive Christ on your tongue this day as the Light of Christ breaks the darkness of sin that torments you. And give thanks; give thanks and:

          “Praise the One who breaks the darkness With a liberating light; Praise the One who frees the pris’ners Turning blindness into sight. Praise the One who preached the Gospel, Healing ev’ry dread disease, Calming storms, and feeding thousands With the very Bread of peace.

          Praise the One who blessed the children With a strong, yet gentle word; Praise the One who drove out demons With the piercing two-edged sword. Praise the one who brings cool water To the desert’s burning sand; From this Well comes living water Quenching thirst in ev’ry land.

          Let us praise the Word incarnate, Christ, who suffered in our place. Jesus died and rose victorious That we may know God by grace. Let us sing for joy and gladness,  Seeing what our God has done; Let us praise the true Redeemer, Praise the One who makes us one.” 

LSB 849

          Praise be to Christ our Light that breaks the darkness of sin. Give thanks for His blessings. Worship the King just like the Magi. And by His grace and the work of the Holy Spirit in you…reflect that light and love and peace to the world around you…that nations may come to worship the King of Kings. Amen.

Now may the peace of God which passes all human understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. Amen.