Carol Goehring, Corridor District
Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”
“When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy… Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
My granddaughter Mia, at six months of age, is just beginning to engage her world. The lights and sounds of Christmas fascinated her. The Christmas tree in her home was filled with lights that seemed to dance as they changed colors. As I held her in my arms, in front of the tree, she squealed with delight.
On this day, January 6, 2017, we observe Epiphany. It is sometimes called the Twelfth Night, and it marks the visit to the baby Jesus by the Kings or Magi. The word “Epiphany” means “manifestation,” and it refers to the revelation of God in Jesus. This is no ordinary child; the Magi have discerned his godly nature, and they search for him, following a star in the sky. A point of light altered their course and altered the course of history, as well.
Legend tells us that the Kings were named Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar. It also has been said of these three that they represented Europe, Arabia, and Africa, respectively. We have no way of knowing if there were three, or if they came from different lands, but the story is compelling. How would three scholarly men, possibly astrologers, from three different regions of the world, confer, cooperate and contribute so generously to this unknown baby? Why would they not compete with one another and cultivate favor with local officials?
It was a dark and frightening world when God sent Jesus, the gift of life and light. Today, much of the world still lies in darkness. There are unprecedented wealth and pleasure for a few, but a multitude of God’s children live in the darkness of disaster, poverty, oppression and violence. As they struggle every day just to survive, unprecedented mistrust and rancor divide communities and nations. People suffer from ostracism and fear.
In the words of Reuben Job, “It is not a time to offer excuses or to place blame. But it is time for all Christians to remember who we are and to chart and follow a new path – a path that always moves away from violence and toward peace, a path that leads us away from the implied and symbolic threat of much of our national discourse, a path that affirms finding a way forward that benefits all and not just a few, a path that is in harmony with the One we claim as Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.“ (40 Days with Wesley, Rueben Job, p. 49)
Now is the time for the church to chart the course, to lead the way toward unity and justice, for the church and all humankind. Now is the time to seek the light of the world that assures life and peace for all.
Holy God, shine! Enable us to leave behind old fears and move toward the light of peace;
Help us to lay aside old controversies and embrace new conversations;
Give us grace to turn old assumptions into new ways of engaging differences among us.
Hear our prayer, O God. Amen.