Matthew 2:1-2 "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him."
There were certain obstacles this morning that made it challenging to get to church. And if it was challenging to us, imagine what it would have been like when wise men came from the east at the birth of Jesus. No roads, no cars, no maps, as we know them,Ö but never the less they came. And while tomorrow is Epiphany, I would like to talk about Epiphany today.
Epiphany is the 12th day of Christmas, and like many things, this is another occasion of saving the best till last. Epiphany comes from a Greek word, and it means manifestation, or revelation. So the big question is what is being revealed? Jesus, born in Bethlehem of Judah, is being revealed. Previously he had been shown to Jewish Shepherds as the promised Messiah, that is the Christmas revelation. On New Years, we remember that Jesus name was given to us at baptism, for the forgiveness of all our sins, so New Years reveals Jesus as our Savior. But the reason why Epiphany is the Great Day it is, is because Epiphany is the revelation of Jesus, Savior of all Nations. All Nations, means everyone. And what happens on Epiphany, is that we remember the arrival of the wisemen from the East, who have come with gifts to worship the newborn King.
Now in the oldest traditions, Christmas trees went up on Christmas Eve, to mark the beginning of the 12 days of Christmas. After all, a tree is topped with a star [as in the Star of Bethlehem] would point to the star which marked the place where the Christ child was born, and it wouldnít appear until Jesus was born. And so it was that the tree remained, with the star on top until the wise men could be safely guided to the new born King.
No one is certain how the wisemen knew the meaning of the new star, it may have been from Daniel, who had been a wise man himself [and in the East]or it may have been that when Israel was in Exile others came to know about the Scriptures of Israel. They came in hope, and the chief priests in Jerusalem told them where to look, and the star guided them the rest of the way.
Iíve always loved this story, for it is a story of Godís love, and of how God welcomes even outsiders. Its a story of hope for Christians, for we too have been called on a journey, as by faith we travel by grace the road that leads to heaven. And as the wisemen arrives safely at their destination, so we too, by the grace of God in Jesus Christ, will arrive at the place prepared for us, in heaven. As the star guided the wise men to Jesus, so Jesus guides us by grace through faith to the gates of heaven.
And as the greatest gift God has given to Christians, is the privilege of sharing the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ, it is not hard to imagine the wisemen, traveling, and telling all along the way about the great thing they are traveling to see. Join us in the journey, come and see this wonderful thing, which the Lord is revealing.
Its sad, that people have forgotten about the 12 days of Christmas. It is sad that, by and large the tress are down, and the nativity scenes are all put away. But perhaps next year, things can be different. Christmas gets very commercial, but this has not yet happened to Epiphany. It is a time when nothing can distract us from the celebration of a savior born for us, to redeem us from sin death and the devil, to save us from what our sins deserve, to forgive us, and to give us everlasting life. And it is a time we can celebrate our journey of faith, and the opportunity we have been given by God, to invite others to come along with us, as we follow Jesus on the road that leads to heaven.