Posted in Christmas, church, Ministry

Celebrating Epiphany

wise menWhat is it about Epiphany that makes it so appealing? Is it because it’s usually the first Sunday of a new year? Is there something about the wise men that captures our imagination? Is it the music, from “We Three Kings of Orient Are” to “As With Gladness Men of Old”? I can’t put my finger on it, but there was certainly more energy in the air today at church than there was, say last week, the Sunday after Christmas. And I know it won’t be as easy to command their attention with the Baptism of our Lord next week.

My grandson spent about thirty minutes looking at and playing with the characters in the stable on display in the sanctuary, as three camels and three wise men joined the shepherds, sheep, cow, donkey and the holy family. For the children’s sermon I had some frankincense and myrrh for them to smell. They weren’t impressed. But they know what the gold was! They got to take a shiny gold coin with them because I had plenty – a bag of 144 for just a few bucks.

There is something exotic, mysterious, and treacherous about these visitors from the east. We’re not sure we trust them. They don’t prove themselves until they return home a different way instead of reporting back to Herod. They bring great gifts that point to Jesus’ roles as king, priest and sacrifice.

A bright star, an angelic dream, several fulfilled prophecies, and a dramatic escape – it’s just a great story, I guess.

Posted in Grace, Life, Ministry

Premature Ephiphany thoughts

Even though Epiphany isn’t technically until Wednesday, we’ll be celebrating it in worship tomorrow. I’ve never been at a church where the worshipers were willing to get together on the actual day of Epiphany, so we usually observe it the first Sunday in January.

It seems like everyone likes Epiphany. Perhaps that’s because the account of the wise men coming to worship Jesus with their gifts is such a familiar story. Few are aware of the significance of the day, but they like it anyway, because who doesn’t like presents?

The actual arrival of the wise men would have been a very strange occurrence for Mary, Joseph and Jesus, Christmas-crashers, as it were. Gentiles in the house? Well, they brought gifts…

Most of us Gentiles tend to forget we’re Gentiles and what an amazing truth it is that the Gospel is for us, whether we bring gifts or not.

And lest we forget, Matthew’s gospel does not tell us where they came from, other than the “east.” He does not mention how many wise men there were. Or that they rode camels. Or that they brought a drummer boy along with them.