Friday, January 1, 2010

The Beginning of True Worship

Reflections on the Readings

The Epiphany of the Lord 

January 3, 2010 - Year C

By Dennis Hankins

Readings For Today

The Beginning of True Worship

...Wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?  For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him." 

In the beginning there was light.  We know this because God said, "Let there be light, and there was light."  It is the Psalmist who declares, "In thy light do we see light." (Ps 36:10) And in the fulness of time, it is Jesus who proclaims, "I am the light of the world."  

Light draws attention.  Since the earliest days of creation, humankind has looked up, being captivated by the stars above, imagining and charting the meaning they conveyed.  Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. (Psalm 19:2, 3 RSV)

The star in the East certainly captured the attention of the Wise Men from Persia.  The star illuminated both the way they should travel and their hearts, for the Wise men from the East not only followed the star, they also discerned the message of the star.  The heavenly message was clear: the new born child is both King and Priest.  And the gifts they brought with them for this new born King speak of his royalty, his divinity, and his mediation as a priest; gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 

How we still need the illumination of that ancient star.  It provides us with the meaning and the reason for the season. This star still leads us to a greater light, a light that draws us into the life and love of him who is Emmanuel, which means God is with us!  

During these Twelve days of Christmas we've a story to revisit, a story to retell to the nations.  The Story is that light has come, and that the God who is light received a body from the Holy womb of the Virgin Mary and became man, calling us to his friendship.  Therefore, Jesus is the reason for the season.  A pastor I recently heard preach said, "And the reason for Jesus is you!"  That's right.  And what will you do with this offer of friendship?

Will the light of Christmas be extinguished by meaningless partying and wasteful spending?  Does the darkness between us and God and each other grow darker still because Christ is taken out of Christmas? For Christmas without Christ is darker than a million midnights.  

Let us keep the meaning and the message of Christmas.  May we experience a new encounter with the Light of the world.  Together let us pray for a true and deeper Epiphany.  May the amazement and wonder and awe we sense in the Wise men become our wonder, our amazement, our awe.  For on this Altar today is the glory of the Lord, and if we will gaze upon these gifts with our hearts we shall know again the illuminating truth of his words: "This is my body, this is my blood."  

For it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6 RSV)

The Epiphany the Wise men experienced, the Epiphany that is ours today, is the beginning of true worship.  

Let us pray: Dear Father, we have come to worship him, thine only Son our Lord, in the power and light of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 


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