The Epiphany

Illumination, Revelation, Transformation, by Patricia Tull

Excerpt: This column offers an overview of central ecological themes for each week of Epiphany. The progression moves in a logical sequence, beginning with creation’s celestial light on Epiphany itself, to the fundamental elements of water and fire and then God’s gracious gifts, likewise visible in the creation story of Genesis 1, of diversity and relationality, which shine through both in nature overall and in human society.

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The journey of the wise men, by the Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas

Excerpt: As I pondered today’s Gospel, I got to thinking: what would happen if the wise men walked out of those crèches and into our lives? What would happen if these figures — so easy to trivialize as nothing more than decorative props for a mid-winter festival that we pack away when the festival is done — what if the wise men actually came to life for us? What if their journey informed and deepened our own spiritual search, and propelled it forward? What if their experience of seeking and finding the Christ child was an archetypal journey, one that could lead us into a move vivid and lively relationship with Christ? So I began to read the story for its spiritual significance, as a sacred story about how to grow in intimacy with God.

Four parts of the story stood out for me.

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Reflection by the Rev Wanda Copeland

As I interact with and respond to that part of myself that wants to succumb to a literal reading of Scripture. I’ve always been curious why magi could follow a star for countless miles and days to a foreign land and pinpoint their destination. Yet, King Herod for all his own wisdom and sage advisors could not or did not notice the same star that was said to hover over his own skies.

Similarly how can it be that some clearly see environmental degradation and human participation in exacerbating it, while others insist global warming is not so, a hole in the ozone may have always existed and species die all the time. Is it a matter of physical sight versus spiritual sight? Do we really only see what we want to see? Does our encounter with God give us new eyes – eyes that are open to the pain and suffering of “the other”?

Reflection by the Rev Wanda Copeland

In the ancient Near East, people thought of the stars as supernatural beings. As such, the stars influenced the course of human history. Astrologers who could interpret the stars (and hence the future) had great power. Looking at the stars, watching for patterns or unusual occurrences was important work. Imagine the excitement, and perhaps the terror, in seeing the Star of Bethlehem. Whether a comet or a periodic, but unusual alignment of planets, or something entirely different, the appearance of the star recorded in Matthew must have drawn lots of attention.

While we don’t know Matthew’s reason for recording this piece of information for us, we can imagine that reverence and importance would have been added to Jesus’ birth if it was known that other “gods” acknowledged Jesus’ birth. Even the heavens bowed down to Jesus, and foreign gods worshipped him. We say, in our Nicene Creed, that through him all things were made. Whether supernatural, or entirely natural, it seems appropriate that all of creation recognized Jesus and came to him at the time of his birth. In what ways does nature still acknowledge Jesus’ birth? In the lengthening of days (coming of the light from the darkness, warming of the earth for those in the Northern Hemisphere.) The signs of welcome and rejoicing are many, if we but take the time to look.

This is also an intro text for this specific Sermon Example that links here.

Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12; Psalm 72:1-7,10-14

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