January 6, 2019

A Mystery to Be Revealed

Passage: Ephesians 3:1-12, Matthew 2:1-12

God of gold we seek your glory;God of incense we offer your our prayers; God of myrrh we cry to you for all who suffer and we embrace you God-with-us in our own yearnings to find your Christ.  Amen.

This day of the Epiphany, the seeking for the child by the magi is a yearly, daily, hourly invitation for us to seek him, too.  Sometimes that seeking comes in the form of a mystery.  How…why…when…where.  This mystery before us this festal day is one in which the planning was from eternity.  Something akin to the lessons heard from just two weeks ago on Christmas Day.  We often think of a mystery as a puzzle to be solved or a novel to be read with the answer unveiled at just the last moment.  But in Scripture a mystery is a treasure to be revealed, also a sacrament to be received.  Jesus is not God’s way of readjusting a plan set from before time, a mystery finally unveiled. Jesus IS God’s plan from before time.  And the mystery hidden in that plan lies before us today.  It’s God’s turn-around radical event that startles the world then and now.

First the Magi.  We have two groups of three people on their journey here in this church. All of them bearing gifts all of them looking quite regal.  They only know Jesus or the birth of this portent from what has been revealed to them in nature.  The star.  A new outpouring from the heavens that is a sign for them to seek from whence it came and to where it will lead them.  They are the Gentiles in search of a Jewish boy.  These foreign exotics are better informed about the nature of this mystery than many inhabitants of Jerusalem or many inhabitants of America or Europe or the Middle East…  The mystery of God is just the opposite from Gentiles seeking a child.  The God of the Jews and the Covenant is in search of those who are outside that original promise.  God’s providence to the nation of Israel has been expanded to include everyone.  This child, the birth we celebrate is God’s announcement of international significance that it becomes a political intrigue in the court of Herod the Great.  Simply because the birth of a child comes to his ears, he who is very jealous for this throne, he will kill, deport, excommunicate any who oppose him.  And with this announcement from the foreigners God has interrupted his plans for his future. 

Many took offense at this child and many still do.  Stated simply this child who is from God began a revolution that continues to this day.  He brings down the hostilities that exist between one people and another.  All now are heirs of God’s eternal promise not just one group or another.  And if God is set about bringing down boundaries then we must be about the same.  We must remove the blinders that keep us who think we are the chosen people to now be able to envision all as God’s chosen.  This is a tough thing to ask especially for someone who is Jewish either by descent or choice.  But both our Gospel and the letter to the church in Ephesus are reminders that inclusivity is often a primary focus on God’s behalf.  As many seek in our time as many have sought throughout time so we too must seek Christ whenever and wherever we need.  All of us have deep inner longings which can only be filled with something, someone outside ourselves.

Enter the Christ child.  This is God’s self-giving act and we too can offer ourselves in response.  It has been supposed each of the gifts offered to the child has a meaning: gold fit only for a king; frankincense is an offering worthy of divinity; and myrrh is a burial spice. All of them precious all of them gifts.  And as we offer ourselves in whatever manner that may be we too are precious beyond price.  We hunger in our spirits and God invites our seeking and our finding.  The magi found the child for whom they sought.  Let us also find this child, this Christ, anew in this season and in this life.   A mystery to be revealed.  Amen.




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