Sermon 1/8/2017 “In search of Jesus”

Preacher: Jo J. Belser
Location: Church of the Resurrection
Text: Matthew 2:1-12
Day: Epiphany Sunday (We had an Epiphany pageant on this day, so…)

“In search of Jesus”

At this time each year I wonder what the magi saw in the sky that caused them to seek Jesus. What caught their attention? What motivated them to pack the camels and go in search of the Christ Child? Something had been revealed to them. But what?

We don’t know much about the magi and their journey. Today’s gospel lesson says they came from the East, but not WHERE in the East they came from. Only Matthew’s gospel tells us about the wise men, but it doesn’t even tell us how many people made the trip (or whether they rode camels). We talk about there being three wise men, but only because they brought three gifts. Eastern Churches say there were twelve magi. Maybe they brought their wives and children; maybe they left them at home. Someone in the sixth or seventh century assigned them names, three names, and we are going to sing of three kings in search of Jesus, but we don’t really know how many magi there were.

And what about “the star?” Was the star a supernova, just a regular sun that became visible for the first time, a comet, or a unique alignment of planets? Every year about this time there is a TV special telling us what the wise men could have seen in the sky that motivated their trip west. There are all manner of heavenly bodies in the ancient sky that could have been what the magi saw. But we will never know exactly what caused the magi to move out of their comfort zone in to the unknown in search of Jesus, but they went.

This lack of exact information is fortunate, actually, because the Epiphany journey is not just the wise men’s journey; the Epiphany journey is our journey. I don’t know what the magi saw that inspired them to travel west. But I know that there have been times when we each have experienced Epiphany; times when we are moved to make a new journey in search of Jesus.

Haven’t we at Church of the Resurrection, found ourselves living our own epiphany stories? Are not our Lazarus Ministry and new food pantries each an epiphany that shines a light on why we are still here, in the West End of Alexandria, where physical need is so great and we are the only church? Is not our redevelopment project—to gift our City with over 100 units of affordable housing—an epiphany story? Is not our work to discern the new reality into which God is calling Church of the Resurrection an epiphany for our whole church? Do you think we thought of these new realities on our own? Ha! Pack your bags; there is a trip involved!

Our epiphany moments give us hope, expand our understanding of our mission, and have given us the courage to travel beyond the known into whole new territory. Epiphanies are those times when something calls us and moves us to a new place and we experience God in a new way.

That’s what happened to the wise men. Somehow they began to see that their lives were part of a larger story. Could it be that the one who created life, the one who hung the stars in the sky, noticed them, knew them, lived within them, and was calling them? Could it be that the light they saw in the sky was a reflection of the divine light that burned within them, that burns within each one of us?

To seriously consider these questions is to begin a journey. The wise men’s journey took them to a “house” where they found Jesus, the answer to their questions. We may travel a different route than the wise men did but the answer is the same. Our epiphany journeys always bring us to Jesus.

Christ Jesus notices us, knows us, lives within us, and calls us. Whether this Spirit of God inspires us to look up into the sky or to look outside our walls at the community around us and its needs, God is continually revealing himself.

Maybe your epiphany revelation occurred the day you held your first grandchild, or you looked at nature, and saw the beauty of life and knew there is a Creator who loves you. Or maybe your epiphany revelation occurred that day you said, “I love you” and knew that it was about more than just romance or physical attraction. Perhaps your epiphany revelation occurred the moment you really understood that your life is sacred, holy, and acceptable to God and began to accept that God loves you unconditionally. Maybe your epiphany revelation occurred when you kept vigil at the bedside of one who was dying and you experienced the joy that death is not the end.

These are the stories of our lives, epiphanies that forever change who we are, how we live, and the road we travel in search of Jesus. They are moments of ordinary everyday life in which divinity is revealed in humanity and we see God’s glory face to face.

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