In five days, the Christian church will celebrate Epiphany, the arrival in Bethlehem of the three Magi. Matthew 2:9-11 describes their meeting with the Baby Messiah:
And lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts–gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
For this morning’s inspirational message, I am shamelessly “borrowing” from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, specifically from the January 1, 2022 message on the website.
Each year on January 6, the Church celebrates Epiphany. Do you know what the ancient word means and how to experience epiphany every day?
….The wise men were some of the first people to worship Jesus as Lord. But because it takes some time to travel—and back in Jesus’ day, there were no GPS systems or online mapping services, much less, cars—the Christian calendar places Epiphany on Jan. 6, twelve nights after the celebration of Jesus’ birth.
Journeying perhaps 500 miles or more, the wise men sought after the Christ child, following the prophecies from Hebrew Scripture, specifically those from the book of Micah.
In the fifth chapter of Micah, Scripture says, ‘But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel’ (Micah 5:2, ESV).
God’s people were the Jewish people, the people of Israel. But the the wise men were not Jewish. They came from the east and were known as ‘magi,’ or people educated in the ways of astrology. They were pagan, or pre-Christian; but they also knew that the prophets had foretold the birth of the King of the Jews in Bethlehem.
When the magi saw Jesus, they fell down and worshiped Him. They had brought precious gifts with them for the child, who they recognized as a king appointed not by people or family name, but by God. They had an epiphany, or a sudden insight into the true nature of something. They realized that they were in the presence of God.
What would it have been like to be in the physical presence of God? In “Mr. Krueger’s Christmas,” a short TV film produced in 1980 by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jimmy Stewart plays the role of Willy Krueger, a widowed janitor who lives in a basement apartment with his cat George. On Christmas Eve, he daydreams to escape his lonely life, imagining himself in the stable with Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus. I had never seen the film, but I encourage you to take four minutes to watch the clip below. I think you’ll be glad you did.
As we enter into the year 2023, what new insights, or epiphanies, will we have? My New Year’s wish for all of us is that 2023 will be a year of discovering, or re-discovering, that we are always in the presence of the King of Kings. Happy New Year!
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