Monday, 8 January 2018

Epiphany 2018

The word Epiphany means "showing" and the season begins with the story of the 
visit of the wise men or magi in Matthew 2v1-12. The wise men in Matthew's 
story are astrologers. Here are astrologers from the East, thought to be Iran 
visiting the infant Jewish Messiah because their stargazing has foretold of a very significant birth. 
They embark on a long and dangerous journey to find the reason 
for this large star. They believed that the star depicted the birth of the King of the 
Jews, and they went to the palace to find the king-because kings live in palaces. 
But Herod is troubled by the arrival of the magi, the magicians from the East, 
because he thinks he has a rival, another King of the Jews. He pretends that he 
is interested and encourages them on their way to Bethlehem, the House of
Bread, to where the prophet Micah has foretold that the Messiah will come from. 
It is 19 days from Iran to Bethlehem walking, 1,400 miles on Google maps. 
And so they hurry off on their camels to Bethlehem and on arrival, give the infant 
Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh and pay homage to him: Myrrh for a 
kings anointing, gold symbolizing costly worship and frankincense prayer. And 
they departed another way having been warned in a dream of impending trouble, 
if they went back to Herod. Dreams were important then and understood as a
way of God speaking to you or a situation. Do we take notice of our dreams? (Ali) 
Where would we find wise men or wise women today? Wisdom is much lacking 
in our society though revered by other cultures, like old people. 

These travellers were so convinced by their astrology that they, non-Jews, went 
to find the star and the baby born to be the Jewish Messiah. To do so they had to 
physically travel, 
mentally adjust to cross cultural differences 
and religiously adopt another set of beliefs or at least some of them. 
Who has done that among us today? 

They had to journey. They had to leave behind the safety of their homes, their 
occupations, and in great danger follow what they believed. They were generous 
in their gifts, they gave expensive gifts to the new king. And lastly they listened 
to their dreams. 
Will we travel for our faith? 
Will we cross cultural boundaries? 
Will we give expensive gifts for our faith? 
We all will undertake different journies this year. We are all unique and our 
destiny is unique. Some people will journey to motherhood, Some people to 
university, to health, to life alone, to another country. 

So lets think about us. The Christian life is about a two way relationship. We 
need to give back to God for all we have received. So my question to you all and 
myself is what are you going to give back to God this year? That may be money, 
it may be time, it may be making music, it may be doing someones garden, it 
may be keeping an eye on a neighbour or a relative or looking after a child, helping in the church, writing a book, reciting poetry, fighting climate change, 
joining Greenpeace….there are endless ways you can serve God and make 
Gods world a better place. What is God asking of you this year to give back? 
Talking to friends and other Christians will help you decide and of course praying 
and reading the bible. 

Real lasting satisfaction for you and for me comes when we listen to our dreams. 
Without a vision, a dream, we become as dead people. So do something this 
year that fulfills your dreams and comes from the heart. 

It can be like a divine spark, a hunch, a passion to right injustice or hunger that 
drives us like the Magi to foolishly follow the God of Truth and Wisdom. But of 
such stuff are dreams made of and of such stuff is the journey as Christians we 
embark on when we decide to truly follow this Christ, this Light in our own 
darkness or the darkness of our world. 

The Epiphany story continues through dark days with murder. The murder of 
innocent children because of jealousy. Joseph and Mary take seriously their 
dreams, so they make different plans. God's plan will not be thwarted by evil. 
They flee to Egypt and become refugees, eventually returning to Nazareth to 
their home but living in the shadow of political opposition in Judea. 

As God works around us this year it will be with the same mix of divine
intervention, danger and tragedy. At which point we find ourselves may vary. God 
will be at work despite everything. Will we listen to our dreams. Its scary stuff, 
really being able to peel back the layers and listen to our hearts desires or our 
dreams because it can result in changing our world to follow that dream and 
others may not be sympathetic. But without this we are automatons, not really 
living. The choice is ours. Be blessed by God. 



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Dust and Ashes by Brian Wren