File - Anglican Parish of Gisborne

Sermon – Epiphany Year C Jan 3 2016
Theme: The greatest light show of all time!
Isaiah 60.1-6; Ephesians 3.1-12; Matthew 2.1-12
This year will be bigger and more spectacular than ever! We hear this
every year in the lead up to the New Year’s Eve fireworks displays. Does
it? Did anyone see them the other night? I have to confess that I am
somewhat over these displays – but it is amazing that so many are drawn
to them year after year.
Is it something about light or is it rather
ingenuity, the technology and the associated entertainment that attracts so
Well whatever the reasons or motivations for that celebration, I suggest
that here today in this feast of The Epiphany – we are actually celebrating
in a sense the greatest light show of all time – a light show that we don’t
get to see in fact but one that we hear about and still celebrate – a light
show involving a mysterious star, astrologers or magi following that star,
being led into a political minefield with Herod and his agenda but
ultimately discovering what they had seemingly always been searching
for – a king – a messiah – a savior in the baby Jesus.
But this light show that we hear of in Matthew’s gospel and that we
celebrate is of an entirely different order to the light shows that we are
used to especially on New Year’s Eve – for this light show is not about
human ingenuity or entertainment – rather it is about God – it is in other
words God’s light show for humanity – it is God through the star, the
magi, Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus – it is God announcing –
revealing in no uncertain terms that the God of light – the God of life has
come into the world in a way that is unprecedented – ‘the incarnation’ –
God coming in human form – in this child – the light of the world to
whom these strangers from the east are drawn and led to see and worship.
And what draws our attention to the significance of this whole mysterious
event – this divine light show or spectacular are the magi themselves as
they represent the whole of humanity – for they are the outsiders, the
strangers, those who were not seen as part of Israel’s life or world. The
implication is that all are invited, all can come and worship the Christ
child – all can come and give reverence – and as a result be amazed,
renewed and transformed by the encounter as was seemingly the case for
the magi.
We don’t really know anything much about what happened to the magi
and how it affected them except that they returned to their own country
having been warned in a dream to do so by another road and avoid Herod
altogether. However, I think that the pattern set by the magi indeed has
something to say to us. We follow, we come or gather to worship our
Lord and Saviour Jesus in this Eucharist week by week and then we go –
we are sent out to love and serve the Lord.
This pattern is again
intricately linked with the role of ‘light’ – Jesus as the light of the world –
his example, his teachings, his love, compassion, suffering, death and
resurrection are the light that we follow, the light has draws us to gather
for worship and that also again like the magi sends us out or back home
so to speak – to live, to witness to and share this wondrous light – Jesus.
How we witness to and share this wondrous light for us as individuals
and as a Parish community is I think the question and challenge that we
face in this new year. There is no one simple or clear answer – there is
no set formula for success especially in the extremely complex and
changing culture in which we live. As I have already foreshadowed I
hope as a Parish community we will grapple with some of the issues
involved in this challenge for us and in our context in our forthcoming
Lenten studies and while these may assist and guide us in a way forward,
perhaps in the end what remains essential or foundational is that story,
example and pattern that we acknowledge and celebrate today in this
feast of the Epiphany – and given to us by the magi – a pattern of being
prepared to follow – to go on a journey – to be led where we may not
want to go – to do something that might at first seen as bizarre or crazy
[here I could not help but think that perhaps many would have said so to
the magi travelling to a backwater place like Bethlehem] – so be
determined, to seek, to come and worship the God who comes into our
midst in Jesus, to offer our gifts, to give reverence – in other words –
listen and then to leave, journey and share.
This is the pattern, the basics if you like of the life of faith and indeed I
believe it is captured and repeated in our worship week by week – but of
all our celebrations this feast of Epiphany we are all challenged to take
seriously those words of dismissal at the end of the Eucharist – Go in
peace to love and serve the Lord …. and together with those words in the
Book of Common Prayer that used to be said just before the offertory –
and that capture well this theme of light and witness that is so much a part
of this Feast of the Epiphany of our Lord …
Let your light so shine before all – that they may see your good works
and glorify your Father in heaven.
May we be inspired by the light to find new ways of sharing that
wondrous light of Christ in this new year.