The trees are down, the decorations put away for another year, the cards are recycled or sitting in a pile waiting to be ‘dealt with’.
So how come the wise men have only just arrived?
Today’s readings are the readings for Epiphany – celebrated on January 6th or the nearest Sunday. We celebrate the arrival of the wise men, but more than that we celebrate God’s glory shining in the world. We may have put the Christmas decorations back in the loft, but we can still celebrate the fact that God is with us, not only at Christmas, but always.
And of course today we have even more reason to celebrate as we welcome Luke & Rebecca into membership to worship and live and work alongside all of you here at Plymtree.
Paul writes in the letter to the Ephesians what this fact of God with us means.
The light of Christ has shone in all the world, to all people – Jew and Gentile. Paul says “the mystery was made known to me by revelation”. God’s love and God’s light shines on us in many different ways. We see the light of God’s love now revealed in the face of Jesus Christ – so that God’s grace can shine on and in the whole world. The word Epiphany means “showing out” and we can celebrate the way in which God’s love shines out and shows out in the face of Christ and in other ways too.
So where do we see God’s light and God’s glory in the story Matthew gospel tells us of the visit of the wise men?
We see it first in the light of the star which guides the wise men. God’s light draws them from their homes in the East to what God is now doing in Bethlehem.
They then find the light of revelation in the scriptures, as Herod calls the chief priests and scribes to tell where this king of the Jews will be born. The scriptures confirm that Bethlehem is the place “for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel”
And finally, led again by the star, they find God’s glory in the light in the face of the Christ-child. Here is the one to be worshipped, here is the one to receive their amazing gifts, here is the one who will be King, Priest & Saviour.
God’s truth, grace and glory is found shining in the star, in scriptures and in the child of Bethlehem, Jesus Christ. God’s light is not only found in one place or seen in one way.
As we celebrate epiphany – the light of God’s presence showing out in the world today, we might wonder how Luke will share the light of God’s grace with us.
There is a danger that some people in the church might expect Luke to be like the star in Matthew’s story – the bright and new thing, who has been led here by God and who will lead others to God.
Others will expect Luke to be a wise man, with his Bible college learning, his knowledge of scriptures – the one who will tell everyone else where to go and what to do.
Spme might even think Luke is their saviour: come to bring new life and hope to this church, to be light in the darkness for you.
I’m sure that Luke will bring light into this situation, but not simply as a star, a wise man, or a saviour!
Epiphany is about God’s light, not starlight or human light.
We celebrate epiphany to mark all the ways in which the light of God’s presence shows out in God’s world.
Luke is not here because of what he can do for you and with you all - but to help you find then things that you can do together in God’s strength, through God’s grace & to God’s glory.
Luke is called to bring God’s light to the people of Plymtree – and to help each one of you to also shine with God’s light, for the sake of the world around.
I want to share these words of Archbishop Oscar Romero: the archbishop in El Salvador who was murdered by the government for trying to help the poorest people of that country.
Oscar Romero said this:
“If some day they take the radio station away from us, if they close down our newspaper, if they don’t let us speak, if they kill all the priests and the bishop too, and you are left, a people without priests, each one of you must be God’s microphone, each one of you must be a messenger, a prophet.
The church will always exist as long as there is one baptized person. And that one baptized person who is left in the world is responsible before the world for holding aloft the banner of the Lord’s truth and of his divine justice.”
The Wise men found the light of God in the star, in scripture and in the Christ-child. Then they were overwhelmed with joy and worshipped God.
Here today, as we celebrate the shining of God’s love in the world, we look for that light in God’s signs among us, in the Scripture we read, and most of all, in Christ. And when we find that light we shine with that light, in and for the world.
May God bless you, Luke, and all God’s people here, and enable you to shine with the love of Jesus. Amen.