Epiphany means to be revealed, it is associated with the visit of the Magi (wise men) to the infant Jesus when God revealed himself to the world through the incarnation. It is therefore Christ revealed to the Gentiles. According to Matthew 2:11 the Magi brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. In the Western Church Epiphany Day is on 6th January and the Season of Epiphany finishes on the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday.
seed us with hope
and empower us to be
for the coming
of your Kingdom.
Matthew 2 The Message (MSG)
1-2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem village, Judah territory— this was during Herod’s kingship—a band of scholars arrived in Jerusalem from the East. They asked around, “Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the eastern sky that signalled his birth. We’re on pilgrimage to worship him.”
3-4 When word of their inquiry got to Herod, he was terrified—and not Herod alone, but most of Jerusalem as well. Herod lost no time. He gathered all the high priests and religion scholars in the city together and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”
5-6 They told him, “Bethlehem, Judah territory. The prophet Micah wrote it plainly:
It’s you, Bethlehem, in Judah’s land,
no longer bringing up the rear.
From you will come the leader
who will shepherd-rule my people, my Israel.”
7-8 Herod then arranged a secret meeting with the scholars from the East. Pretending to be as devout as they were, he got them to tell him exactly when the birth-announcement star appeared. Then he told them the prophecy about Bethlehem, and said, “Go find this child. Leave no stone unturned. As soon as you find him, send word and I’ll join you at once in your worship.”
9-10 Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time!
11 They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh.
12 In a dream, they were warned not to report back to Herod. So they worked out another route, left the territory without being seen, and returned to their own country.
Epiphany 2020 – some thoughts:
Early sunsets and dismal weather forecasts seem to stretch on indefinitely at this time of year. Darkness looms, literally and figuratively in 2020. With the rise of right-wing populism around the world and most governments refusing to tackle climate change seriously despite Australia literally being on fire, I find myself desperate for some encouraging news.
Despite the depressing state of the world Epiphany fills me with hope. Stars in the sky! Light in the darkness! Astrologer priests following a star, travelling from distant lands to bring gifts to a poor baby in a feeding trough. God revealed in human form. Christ, the Light in the darkness. What’s not to love about Epiphany!
I believe Jesus taught us to find God incarnate in this world, in our neighbour, in sharing bread and wine, in the natural world, in the ordinary things of this Earth. Sadly, our culture places the most value on power and money and celebrity. Even many of us who call ourselves Christians are more fascinated by celebrity and success than by the radical way of Jesus. Once you can see God in the ordinary everyday things of life and know that you don’t have to climb the ladder of success or be more pure or more perfect to find God, you can honour God in what Jesus calls “…the least of these brothers and sisters of mine” and in the very earth beneath our feet.
Brian McLaren offers a prophetic critique of Christianity’s misplaced fascination with power, wealth and success:
“Growing numbers of us are acknowledging with grief that many forms of supremacy – Christian, white, male, heterosexual – are deeply embedded not just in Christian history, but also in Christian theology. We are coming to see that in hallowed words like almighty, sovereignty, dominion, supreme, elect, chosen, clean, remnant, sacrifice, Lord, dangerous vices often lie hidden. We are coming to see in the life and teaching of Jesus, and especially in the cross and resurrection, a radical rejection of dominating supremacy in all its forms.
The theological term for this is kenosis, which means self-emptying. Rather than seizing, hoarding, and exercising power in the domineering ways of typical kings, conquistadors, Presidents and religious leaders, Jesus was consistently empowering others. He descended the ladders and pyramids of power instead of climbing them, released power instead of grasping at it, and served instead of dominating. He ultimately overturned all conventional understandings of power by purging it of its violence – to the point where he himself chose to be killed rather than kill.”
St. Paul urges us in Philippians 2: 5-8;
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death –
even death on a cross!
We then had a time of prayer focusing on Climate Change.
Sharing Bread and Wine.
For this place and this time, we thank you.
For the beauty and wonder of creation, we thank you.
For your guiding light and presence, we thank you.
For daily food, for home and family, we thank you.
For minds to think, hearts to love and hands to create, we thank you.
For life and health and work, for leisure, rest and play, we thank you.
For all who pursue peace and justice, we thank you.
For Jesus, his life, his death, his resurrection, we thank you.
For bread broken and wine poured out, we thank you.
For your extravagant generosity, we thank you.
A Blessing for 2020.
may you take the risk of bringing your vulnerable, broken self and not your sorted self so that the gospel can flow
may you take small actions that become graced in the least predictable ways
may you resist the temptation towards a theology of answers
may you remember to pause and reflect
may you always be willing to listen
may the deep joy of the spirit make you a bringer of fun, play and laughter
may you accept the invitation to express venturesome love
may you take the risk of conversation that is two way
may your faith guide you to choose wisely and ethically for the good of others
may you develop the practices of soft eyes, compassionate responses and hospitality
may the holy spirit enliven your imagination such that you find the world magical, enchanted, awe-inspiring and breathtakingly wonderful
Jonny Baker Worship Trick
We continued our fellowship at Cool River with Fairtrade tea and coffee!