Sermon – 01-06-19 – Epiphany Day/Sunday – Cycle C
Scriptures: Isaiah 60:1-6, Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14, Ephesians 3:1-12, Matthew 2:1-12
Sermon Title: “Taking The Light And Running With It”
Well we said the wise men are coming. They have arrived! All nine wise men and six camels! Praise the Lord! How did they get here? GPS? Yes! This one brilliant star was their GPS? Their global positioning system. Did three camels get lost or did they perish? I don’t think so. I have seen camels with two humps. Wouldn’t two wise men be able to ride on one camel?
Having nine wise men or as they are sometimes called, nine kings, is not a sacrilege. We are not fooling with the sacred story. No one is going to arrest us for having too many wise men in our chancel area. Each version of the Bible, which I checked, just says “wise men” or “kings” or “magi.” None of the versions said “three” not even the rhyming Bible that I enjoy reading aloud. One Study Bible suggests that the mention of “three gifts” – gold, frankincense, myrrh – has led to the tradition of “three men.” I looked for the meaning of “magi” as these men are called in some versions. Magi seem to be astrologers – people who study the sky. That makes sense, don’t you agree?
But, they were in no way kings! And I so love to call them “kings.” As I puzzled over this delightful dilemma of having nine of these people, they stuck in my mind as “kings.” When I shared this interesting dilemma with other people to see if God had given them the solution to where to place nine kings and still have space for the wonderful liturgical dancer, it was always “kings” in my mind and on my lips. I walked around saying, “God, where are we going to place nine kings and let each one shine?” One of my friends suggested the windowsills. I said, “I don’t think we have flat windowsills.” “Oh,” my friend said and became silent. So now we know for sure there is a God. He helped us to use the minds he gave us in a quite creative way.
Why are the wise men part of the Christmas story? They did not get to the child until several months after the birth. Jesus was in a house. He was called “child.” Did God just think it would be fun to place camels and astrologers in the Christmas story? God does have a sense of humor you may know.
I have a feeling that God made the wise men, the astrologers, an integral part of the story because the light, the star, is a powerful symbol. It is not just for pretty. We cannot light it at will as we do the star above the altar. This star had a purpose. It was the GPS of that day but it was a very precious GPS. It was not for sale at any price. The persons saw it who were supposed to see it. The persons saw it who were to follow it. It was not an accident.
It was a design. It was a gift of our Almighty God to humankind. The people from afar – not Jews, but Gentiles – were inspired, or maybe compelled is a better word, to take time, to take discomfort, to take courage and follow! They grabbed the opportunity and ran with it. Well, you know, I don’t think riding on a running camel is the best way to travel long-distance. But, they acted on it. They did not say, “I don’t know if this is the right time to change our lives like this” or “We might get half way there and our camels will break down” or “I like my life just the way it is.”
So you see, God was thinking of us and our children and our children’s children when he played with the star and got it just right and set it just so and gave it the guidance and the energy to enact his plan – not just for the magi – but for us.
There is a plan for us as individuals but also for this congregation. That is all of us together – maybe like an octopus where we may look like we are headed in various directions with our tangly looking legs but the octopus is still one body and if it does not want to sit at one place and decay, it needs to be practicing how to get the legs working at their optimum.
Please forgive me if I picture us as a congregation looking and acting like an octopus. If you don’t like the octopus, stick with the camels. The body, whatever it is, needs to sense the goal and sense the direction. Grab a star. Not a star that you can pay to name. No, a message from God that is shining. God is waiting for us to be fixated on the light he is providing. Let’s not be blinded by the light and become immobile. Let us let the light of God fill our hearts and minds and not stand still. Run! Run!
Did you ever know a new Christian, a person who had not been walking in God’s light but because someone invited him or her to church or to a Christian spiritual experience of some sort became aware of how much God loved him or her and all of a sudden this light of God burst through the thin barrier and that child of God beamed with joy and told every one who got into his or her way about Jesus and this wonderful new life. This one person practically drags everyone in his or her path to come to church. An evangelist beyond compare! So things do tone down a bit but then the real life begins. The life of grabbing this light from Christ and running with it.
So where shall we run. Well, this congregation has been running with the light very well! But let us not become complacent. Let us look for more ways to carry this light inside and outside the church doors. You may have an idea but you can’t carry out the idea by yourself. Or, you are afraid people will think it is a silly idea and tell you so. Or, your idea costs money and people-power. Or you may have the inspiration for the rest of us to be the legs and the pocketbooks.
Well, meet me in the parsonage board room on Tuesday, January 15 at 11:00 a.m. Bring your thoughts, your ideas, be they big and costly or small and no cost. Please let us leave our gripes at home. We will have no authority. We will not be spending any money without going through all the official, expected channels. We will just be tossing ideas into the air and letting the Holy Spirit shed Christ’s light on them. Let us look where the lightbeams take us! Amen