6 January 2021
Epiphany can be thought of as embodying two journeys. The first is the new vision that the Gospels present of God’s grace and love being extended to all people, and not just those descended from Abraham. This inclusivity is radical, scandalous and exciting, and offers a wonderful opportunity for celebration and welcome in our communities. The second journey is that of going deeper into our understanding of Christ – an opening to the epiphany (the insight, the revelation) of who this Christ child is that we have welcomed to our world in the Christmas season. Of course, both journeys are really one, and both offer us an awesome reason for worship and devotion to Jesus.
May our Epiphany worship be both revelatory and welcoming.
Isaiah 60:1-6: The light of God’s glory and God’s goodness shines on God’s people.
Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14: A prayer for God’s love of justice to fill God’s king, who will then defend the poor and rescue the oppressed.
Ephesians 3:1-12: In Christ both Jews & Gentiles enjoy the riches of God’s blessings.
Matthew 2:1-12: Wise men from the East arrive, worship the Christ-Child and present him with fine gifts.
REFLECTIONS ON THEME:
The Festival of Epiphany reveals to us who this Christ is that has incarnated himself among us. There are two clear revelations that would have been startling for the first readers of Matthew’s Gospel. The first is that the Messiah has come inclusively – for all people: Jew AND Gentile, Wealthy AND Poor, Oppressed AND Oppressor. This inclusivity is a significant aspect of the scandal of the Gospel. The second revelation is the mind-bending truth that has traditionally been seen as reflected in the Wise Men’s gifts: This Child is Royalty (gold), Divinity (frankincense), and yet, also, self-giving Sacrifice (myrrh). All of these passages call us into praise for God’s inclusive incarnation!
CONNECTING WITH LIFE:
Defensiveness and otherness are two of the main characteristics of today’s political, social, economic and relational world. In the quest for self-development, human beings have increasingly seen their individual selves as distinct from and “other than” other people. Businesses work hard to “distinguish” themselves from their competitors and even nations work hard to identify themselves, drawing boundaries, naming enemies and allies, and putting huge investments into defending what is “uniquely theirs”. Epiphany, scandalously reveals that Christ crosses all of these boundaries, refusing to be defensive or self-protective, and refusing to draw lines of separation. This incarnate Messiah draws all creation together into one, and gives up his own safety, security and comfort in order to do it.
Every church community, and every person, longs for the light of God’s glory and blessing to shine on them. This longing often leads us into trying to earn God’s blessing through legalism, doctrinal purity or separation from those who are considered “unrighteous”. Too often faith becomes something exclusive, something to defend against others who see things differently. Epiphany reveals an alternative view of God’s glory – that in Christ’s incarnation God’s glory and blessing are already ours – not something to earn; and that the experience of God’s glory is found in connection and sharing with others, while protecting and defending the least. It is a good discipline to ask: “Who needs to be included in our community right now?” and “Who needs to be protected?” – two questions that necessarily call us to emulate Christ’s self-sacrifice in our own lives.
RESOURCES FOR WORSHIP:
About the Light
Light And Glory
Who Are You, Jesus?
What Child Is This?
We Three Kings
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
Christ From Whom All Blessings Flow
Glorious Things Of Thee Are Spoken
Shine Jesus Shine (Link to YouTube video)
Here I Am To Worship (Link to YouTube video)
How Great Is Our God (Link to YouTube video) (New Song Cafe’)
Open Our Eyes, Lord (Link to YouTube video)
Open The Eyes Of My Heart, Lord (Link to YouTube video)
A Liturgy for the Breaking of Bread
To Know The Creator