January 6, 2019
Text is Matthew 2:1-12
Today is Epiphany Sunday when the Christian Church marks and celebrates the journey of the Magi, (also known as the 3 Wise Men) to Jesus home and the manifestation of Jesus to the Gentile world.
Traditionally, this story has been clumped with the birth of Jesus, as if it had happened all at the same time. Now, we dont actually know when it happened but only that it happened sometime within the first two years of Jesus life. Today we have an opportunity to glean something new (I hope) from this well loved story.
First- please notice that these wise men had a mission. They were set out to find the Messiah. I love that. They were focused, determined, persistent, curious and even bold (so bold they went right up to the leader of all leaders- Herod to ask him about this Messiah).
Seems to me that we can learn from these wise men how we ought to be during this coming year as well! Now if youre like me, I start off every year with a well intentioned New Years Resolution and then by week 4 or 5 (if Im lucky to last that long) suddenly the resolution isnt followed any longer.
So this year I thought I would do something different- and Im going to take a note from the Wise Mens play book for it. They took their time- it took them nearly 2 years to get to Jesus! How many of us are in a rush to get somewhere, to accomplish something, to see results- fast and now! I know I am that way- (i.e. impatient). In fact, I must be KNOWN for my impatience because on a recent Christmas, one of my gifts from my mom was a plaque that says Love and Patience works miracles. In fact, I remember, when I was unwrapping it my mom read it for me, emphasizing the word, PATIENCE. As in, Love and PATIENCE works miracles.! Um, thanks Mom! J
So yes, we live in an instant gratification, instant results, fast-paced, got to have it now world, dont we? Where everything is at our disposal so much so that taking time to think, study, contemplate a decision, create something, learn something all of it is supposed to go fast. And yet that isnt always possible. So the magi remind us to take our… time !
Secondly- they studied. They were known to be scholars. They were men who studied the stars and the sky who were also men of faith, who believed that a Messiah would indeed eventually be known, at sometime and some place, in the world. This reminds me that I need to study Gods word more often; not just on a Sunday or not just when Im about to write a sermon. Actually, if I am honest when Im not studying Gods word, on a regular basis, I feel off balanced. Dont you? A biblical scholar I love to read is Eugene Peterson who likened reading Gods word just as important as it is to eating food and drinking water. He states that if we arent reading and feasting on Gods word, we will not thrive in the world. We will not be strong in our lives, in our decisions, or in our relationships. So, lets be wise like the wise men and study His word.
Thirdly- the magis mission required determination, boldness, discipline, and courage. They set out to find the Messiah. I wonder how many of us are eager to find Christ again AND again in our lives?
It is like any relationship, really. If we do not work at the relationship, or tend to it, or simply spend time with that person, it just wont grow. It grows stale and flat. So it is with our relationship with the Lord. In doing so, we become eager to FIND Christ over and over again in our lives, in order to worship and honor Him, over and over, in our lives!
But lets go back to this word mission- I wonder: do you have a mission? Do you have a purpose for your life or the life of your family this year? If not, ask the Lord what it should be. The Wise Men were open and therefore sought out the path for their journey, which, God had given to them. We must do so, as well.
So, again, what is your mission? If you havent had an opportunity to ask yourself that question, then I invite you to do so this morning.
Go ahead and ask Him- what is it that YOU, Lord want me to focus on this year? Is it about a relationship that needs to be worked on more intentionally? Is it the courage to face an addiction or unhealthy behavior that is hurting you? Is it to spend more quality time with your spouse and/or your children? Is it to find ways in which you can be a better disciple in the world? Is it to take better care of your body, which is after all the temple of God and therefore deserves the best care possible?
Notice too, that the Magi set out with courage, boldness, persistence and determination. In fact, they had enough courage to ask King Herod, (who was already known for being fierce and dangerous), the whereabouts of Jesus. Moreover, they had the courage to travel a great distance and even to change their plans once they learned they should not return to King Herod, afterwards. In other words, they were obedient to Gods instructions and their obedience gave them courage.
Lastly, the magi traveled together. It doesnt say that they went separately. It says that they arrived together. We need people to travel lifes journey with us. Of course, we have been taught that if we are really strong or really smart we dont need anyone else. We should be able to do it all on our own. Yet, we have examples from scripture over and over again how team work was necessary. Jesus and His disciples had to work together. The Apostle Paul had leaders helping him to establish churches like Timothy and Phoebe. Moses had Aaron and Joshua… The Magi had each other.
Friends, we are meant to travel through life with others. We can, of course, get on each others nerves one in a while but at the end of the day, like or not, we need one another. We are NOT meant to travel alone. We are meant to share each others burdens, joys, hopes, and plans. We need one another in order to build the kingdom of God and in order to be His church, the body of Christ.
So, let us celebrate the wise men and their courage, the things they taught us through their journey and their love they showed to Jesus. We may not have gold, frankincense, or myrrh to give to Jesus but we have our gifts, our talents, and certainly our treasures, to give to Him by giving of our best selves to our families, to our church, and to the world.
Let us do so joyfully! Amen.