Emmanuel To Ephiphany
“God with us” to the “manifestation of God to us” – might seem a bit academic. The difference is subtle, but if you think that it’s not that big of a deal then you would really have missed the reason for the season we just celebrated. At Christmas we celebrate that God becomes one of us – incarnate – in-flesh and that is a great gift and all well and good, but if there is no epiphany – no manifestation – no revealing of this gift to the world…well then, not much else matters.
This is why the visit of the magi is quite significant. Their visit brings full circle the revelation or manifestation of God to the rest of humanity. Sure, the very first people who saw God in the flesh, the very first people whom God revealed God’s self to, and the very first witnesses of the epiphany or manifestation of God in the flesh were Mary and Joseph, followed by the shepherds – all Jewish by certain accounts. But what we learn from the story of the magi is that God didn’t just come to reveal God’s self to a select or exclusive group of people—God came to reveal God’s self to the rest of humanity. God came for everyone – for all. The magi’s visit was also our visit—God’s manifestation or epiphany to them was also God’s epiphany or manifestation to us.
The question we need to ask though: What does this epiphany mean for us today? The first epiphany happened more than 2,000 years ago, so what’s the relevance for us, for our church here today in 2019? I think the answer is found in the story. Look again at what happened and see if you can’t find a few parallels.
The magi, with the little knowledge that they had, embark on a journey to encounter the promised Messiah—they were led only by a star; they didn’t know exactly where the star would lead them; it was not a walk in the park; they had to ask, inquire, and consult so many people in order to arrive at their destination—in order for them to discover what they were seeking or rather who they were seeking. Do we have the perseverance, patience, fortitude, prudence of the magi in encountering the Lord? Are we willing to persevere in our own quest to find what God desires to make known to us in the year ahead at St. Jacob’s?
No doubt, the Magi’s encounter with Jesus transformed them. They could no longer go back on the same path as before – like we read in Matthew’s account, “They departed for their country by another way”.
As we embark on a New Year and look forward to all that is ahead for us, I think this could be one of the more important descriptions for us to keep in mind. It doesn’t just underscore choosing a different route to go home by when they returned to their homes and country, but it signifies a re-orientation of life, a new way of being, because once we truly encounter Jesus, we cannot be the same person again. Discerning vision is like that – once we start the process and embark on the journey, we simply cannot go back the way we once came. We will need to find a new way – allow ourselves to be taken in a new direction.
Are we willing to do this – willing to be like the magi? Will we share the perseverance, patience, fortitude, prudence of the magi in encountering the Lord and the Lord’s vision for us in 2019 and beyond? I hope so… because the alternative is either to be like the scribes and teachers of the law who knew all that they needed to do and what was coming, but they did nothing – or even worse to be like Herod – acting out of fear and destroying all life in the process.
The journey and the choice are before as we enter this season of our lives together. The road ahead is going to be a bit arduous at times. Most journeys of any consequence encounter a few obstacles, but if we can be a little like the magi in our perseverance, patience, fortitude, and prudence to encounter the Lord, I dare say, we will seek, and we will find new life and vision ahead.
With you on the Journey,