Sunday, 8 January 2012

Epiphany notes

So finally the three kings make it to the Christmas party.
But perhaps not quite the three kings we were expecting.
There are the magi, of course – the visitors from the East who come with their gifts of Gold, Frankincense and myrrh. Sometimes we assume that as there were three gifts there were three of them – but Matthew doesn’t tell us. But whether they are kings or simply astronomers their gifts and the story of their journey tell us important things about kingship.
Their kingship is that of knowledge and wisdom and the willingness to enter into adventure in search of the truth.

Along their journey, the magi encounter a second king, Herod. His kingship is of a very different kind. He exercises power over his kingdom – he defends himself against the potential threat of another king. He is a king who is keen to show the authority tat comes with his position.

Of course journey’s end for the magi comes with the king they are actually seeking all along – the third king of the story - Jesus. Having failed to find him in a palace with Herod, they encounter him in an ordinary village

The magi present their symbolic gifts. The gold and frankincense are mentioned in the Isaiah reading. They are the gifts that symbolise the coming of people to praise the Lord God. The gold is often seen as a symbol of grandeur and power – like Herod’s kingship. The frankincense points to the kingship of mystery and wisdom – like that of the magi. But the magi also bring a third gift, which shows that Jesus’ kingship has a different dimension, in addition to the glory of Herod and the wisdom of the magi.
Myrrh symbolises death, self-sacrifice, the willingness to lay aside the glory and the wisdom of kingship for a greater purpose.
This third and greatest king, Jesus, will live and die and rise again to show people the true power he wields – the power to love and change the world. Thanks be to God. Amen.

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