Saturday, January 6, 2018

Feast of the Epiphany

Then God said, “Let there be light”;  and there was light.
And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.
Indeed, you are my lamp, O Lord, the Lord lightens my darkness.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,
your word is a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it.

There are 335 instances of the use of light in the bible.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
“There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in.” ― Leonard Cohen.
“We draw people to Christ not by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.” - Madeleine L’engle.
All the great people know and write about the Light that enlightens the world.

One of the reasons I love to go outside and walk in the morning is to experience the sunrise. Now, for those of you who are already worried about me going outside in the cold and dark of the winter, I will reassure you that I don’t go out in this weather anymore. As our earth rotates, and the light of the sun gradually sneaks over the horizon, I am reminded of the gift of light. A few years ago, during the summer of 2013, we were in Flåm, Norway. There was no darkness then, just amazing light all through the night. Close your eyes for a moment, sitting in this darkness, picture your light. Find your sunrise, your midnight sun; the time you gave thanks for the sun breaking out of the clouds and over the horizon; the time that your darkness was taken over by the light. The light that shines in the darkness, the light that drives out darkness.

This light reminds me of the light that is so lovely I want with all my heart to know the source of it. This light breaks into my world, my life, just like Jesus breaks into our world, our lives.

These travelers from the east, bearing exotic, luxurious gifts fit for a king, follow the light that shows them the one who breaks into our world bringing the light, the joy beyond imagining, sought and found by all, present now in our midst.  They come following the light, bearing gifts for the one who is the light of the world. Epiphany means a manifestation – a discovery, a showing, bringing into the light of day, seeing plainly. In the helpless child in his mother’s arms, they saw the Messiah: a powerful moment of epiphany. And now their dream shows them something else. It is a little epiphany, a way of seeing that everything is not as it seems: that there is another level of truth, and a different way home.

The light shines in the darkness, and reveals the truth that some wish would remain hidden. The truth that hiding in the darkness is not an option. The light has shone, the light will shine, the light will not be put out. We see this again during Holy Week, before Easter. All the principalities and powers would pull the wool over our eyes, would have us believe that darkness reigns, but not with this God, this force. The light shines, love wins.

And these wise people who traveled great distances to offer their gifts to the newborn Christ-child were responding to the gift first given to them. They received God’s gift, then offered their gifts to God. As we commemorate the arrival of these wise people and remember their offerings, we delight in this paper reminder that symbolizes God’s generosity, God’s light, in our lives.
This is your gift. This is a gift of light, it is a gift of life. Receive it. It reminds us that this is always the order of things in God’s realm—God always gives first, and then we are invited to respond with our gifts and ourselves. Take a moment to read it.

I invite you to let this gift light your way this year. Maybe this gift becomes your intention this year. And maybe this gift opens up a new way home. A way through the madness; a way through the dark; a way around the pitfalls. Always remembering that This light shines in the darkness, this gift is love, and even though we go home by another way, it’s never easy.

And today I’ll leave you with the words from a favorite song and a favorite artist, Home by another way, by James Taylor.

Those magic men the Magi
Some people call them wise
Or Oriental, even kings
Well anyway, those guys
They visited with Jesus
They sure enjoyed their stay
Then warned in a dream of King Herod's scheme
They went home by another way

Yes they went home by another way
Home by another way
Maybe me and you can be wise guys too
And go home by another way
We can make it another way
Safe home as they used to say
Keep a weather eye to the chart on high
And go home another way

Steer clear of royal welcomes
Avoid a big to-do
A king who would slaughter the innocents
Will not cut a deal for you
He really, really wants those presents
He'll comb your camel's fur
Until his boys announce they've found trace amounts
Of your frankincense, gold and myrrh

Time to go home by another way
Home by another way
You have to figure the Gods saying play the odds
And go home by another way
We can make it another way
Safe home as they used to say
Keep a weather eye to the chart on high
And go home another way

Safe home.

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