“Finding Jesus: A Joyous Epiphany” (Matthew 2:1-12)

The Epiphany of Our Lord
Sunday, January 6, 2019

“Finding Jesus: A Joyous Epiphany” (Matthew 2:1-12)

Today is January 6, and that means today is Epiphany. The Epiphany of Our Lord is a major festival in the church year, a big one, almost on a par with Christmas. And, like Christmas, Epiphany is a fixed-date festival, meaning it always falls on the same date, regardless of the day of the week. So most years we celebrate Epiphany with a special service on a day other than Sunday, and we have to make a special effort to get here. But this year January 6 happens to fall on a Sunday, when we’re here anyway. Most years we have our Epiphany service in the dark, and the weather might be bad. This year we’re here in the daylight, and the weather is no problem. All of which makes our Epiphany service this year very easy and convenient.

But that’s not the way it was for the first Epiphany service! It was by no means easy or convenient. The worshipers at the very first Epiphany service had to travel an extremely long way to get there. Plus, they didn’t even know exactly where the service would be until they got there! And to get there, they had to cross paths with a very dangerous and deceitful man. Then there was the offering they gave at the service–talk about costly! Well, even with all those obstacles, the first Epiphany worshipers still thought it was worth the effort. In fact, they were overjoyed! And so are we. Thus our theme today: “Finding Jesus: A Joyous Epiphany.”

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Published in: on January 5, 2019 at 10:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“What Epiphany Tells Us about Worship” (Matthew 2:1-12)

The Epiphany of Our Lord
Saturday, January 6, 2018

“What Epiphany Tells Us about Worship” (Matthew 2:1-12)

The Festival of the Epiphany of Our Lord always falls on January 6, regardless of the day of the week. In that respect, it’s like Christmas, which always falls on December 25. Both are what are called “fixed-date festivals.” And so right after the twelve days of Christmas comes Epiphany. This year Epiphany, January 6, falls on a Saturday, and that’s why we’re here today.

Epiphany has long been part of the church’s worship. In the early church, Epiphany was observed perhaps even more than Christmas. This was because, while at Christmas Christ was revealed to the Jews, at Epiphany Christ was revealed to the Gentiles, and the church rapidly included more Gentiles than Jews. At Christmas, remember, the angels said to the shepherds, who were Jews, “I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people,” meaning, the Jewish people. But at Epiphany, that good news of great joy was extended to the Gentiles, to non-Jews–in this case, to the wise men, the Magi. And so Epiphany is often referred to as the “Gentile Christmas,” when Christ was first made known to the nations outside of Israel.

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Published in: on January 6, 2018 at 6:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Arise, Shine, for Your Light Has Come” (Isaiah 60:1-6)

The Epiphany of Our Lord
Friday, January 6, 2017

“Arise, Shine, for Your Light Has Come” (Isaiah 60:1-6)

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.”

“Arise and shine”? Are you kidding me? On a Friday night? In January? On a dark and cold night, with snow on the ground? “Arise and shine”? Heck, it was hard enough to arrive on time, much less “arise and shine”! “Arise and shine.” After the week I’ve had? Yeah, Pastor, why are you dragging us out here on a Friday night in January anyway? I don’t know of many other churches that are having services today.

And that’s unfortunate. Because having church on Epiphany used to be more common than it is today. Many churches have dropped having Epiphany services on Epiphany, which is always January 6, regardless of the day of the week. Instead, these churches transfer Epiphany to the Sunday before or the Sunday after, or they even ignore it altogether. If they transfer it to a Sunday, then whatever was on that Sunday gets bumped from the church year. And if they ignore Epiphany altogether, then they’re ignoring a major festival in the church year, one that has been celebrated in the Christian church for many, many centuries–in fact, one of the earliest festivals to be observed. And that’s a shame. Because the themes of the Epiphany festival are so important and so joy-giving. And they’re summed up in that opening verse from Isaiah 60: “Arise, Shine, for Your Light Has Come.”

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Published in: on January 5, 2017 at 7:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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