S-1357-Epiphany/C 1/06/2013 Hymns: O) #126; (S) #498; C) #343 vv 1-3, 7
Texts: Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12
Theme: “Doing His Heavenly Work” (Isaiah 60:1-3)
Question: “Do you enjoy your work?” Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for the Epiphany is from the O.T. lesson: “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and His glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising” (Isaiah 60:1-3).
In Nomine Iesu
O most precious children of the heavenly Father arise, shine! Do you not know that your Light (Jesus, see John 1:5) has risen upon you. You walk in His light. You reflect His light and you glow with His light. You receive His light. You are the object of His love! When I address you as “Most precious” it is simply the realization that you truly are His precious possession. In Hebrew we call that “Segula.” Why, though? Simply, because, you belong to the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Shortly, after the infamous day of 9/11, we were a nation united by our fear, but more importantly... by His faithfulness. The folks who came to Jesus’ infant house probably shared the same bloodline as those who flew the jets into the Twin Towers. How could He receive them? How can He receive us? Why does He indeed go to the Cross? Simply stated: “to draw all men unto Myself” (John 12:32). He, the Author of Life draws “all men.” Not merely those with Jewish blood lines, but every child of Abraham - that is, every man, woman, and child who has received His faithfulness in His Word and Sacraments. The Magi are about as far from being Jews as anyone could be - but the Word drew them to the Christ - even as He does for you and me. He loves sinners! And He LOVES YOU TOO. Don’t you forget it or listen to someone who teaches you otherwise.
So arise and shine, most precious. The Magi rose and they shined as well. For the Christ Child not only drew them unto Himself - He shined through them. This He does through you as well. Isn’t He so gracious! He not only saves you... He uses you to save others. Think about how people want to find their “purpose” in life! To be His own and live under Him in His peace and through His Word is enough and more than enough!
He uses you, as His most precious, in love, and He even used the greed of Caesar Augustus to bring Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem, to fulfill all righteousness. He used the greed and stupidity, the avarice of Herod to speak to the Magi and the grand wealth of heaven in diapers to bless not only those Magi, but each of us who have also been drawn to God (like bugs to a bright light), not as to a King’s closed drawbridge but a Child’s welcoming smile! These Magi were fulfilling the Word of the Lord written some 700 years earlier by Isaiah here in our Old Testament lesson, who said that, the gold and Frankincense would be offered to the Savior, but also that they would bear back home, the Good News of Jesus!
If the good news isn’t for all, then it isn’t for any. If the love and salvation of God can be limited then it is not the love of God! Now watch this: For you, the Light has shined – but much, much more, it shines through you! Heaven went back to Sheba with the Magi. That is no small point. God changed them. He shone upon them. He is shining upon you and has changed you! His love is that big. It is also that small. It fits your life and uses you to touch others—even here at Redeemer! The Word and presence of God changed Moses on Sinai, so that he shone (Exodus 34:35) - and God has not changed! He has changed your look as well!
Look how the Jew’s Jew, the great Rabbi named Saul, from Tarsus, was changed to be the one who was to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
This same Paul, centuries later, still brings the light to everyone, preaching to the Gentiles that sweet unsearchable richness of Christ! You are like Paul - one who has been re-purposed, reclaimed, redeemed. Jesus being visited by these Magi means that God changes lives, across all nationalities! He uses all nationalities - all souls - because all souls matter and they are precious in His sight. Christ loves all for He came for all people. He is Lord of Creation and Lord of each soul and life! He is a personal God who clothes Himself in the foreign garb of Magi. He touches these lives to touch others. That is why Epiphany matters. This is a short season, and it is not Christmas. The Magi were not at the stable, but at the house. Because that is so, Christ reveals what the Incarnation truly means: Life, all life, is redeemed and cherished!
Because of this visit by the Magi, Jesus will leave for Egypt, so that again Hosea could declare, “Out of Egypt, I called My Son!” (Hosea 11:1) He is the Lord of every nation and race and peoples! He came for you, and... and this is huge... He is using you to do His heavenly work. I have made that point several times this morning because you mustn’t miss it - heavenly Work is being done today, to you and through you. God is here - He shines and calls you to arise and shine!
But we must never forget what the Child of Christmas came to do for us His precious ones. Look at His life from infancy on; He shined with the brightness of the Eternal LIGHT. This Child who once was a carpenter-turned-teacher-turned-wonder-worker was in Galilee. And as the word got out, the people came. They came from every hole and hovel in Israel. They came like soldiers returning from battle—bandaged, crippled, and sightless: The old with prune faces and toothless mouths. The young with deaf babies and broken hearts. Fathers with sons who couldn’t speak. Wives with wombs that wouldn’t bear fruit. The world, it seemed, had come to see if He was real or right or both. And in Him they found a rich and bright light that illumines the soul. In Him they found hope and help and knew that He is the One who calls them “Segula” precious.
You who are precious in His sight, know that He has done His Divine Work well. The greatest work He has done is not to heal the wounded, to fill the wombs, and raise dead people from the tomb, but to die for you on Calvary’s cross. He did it because He considered you “Segula” precious in His sight and wanted you to know that He loves you to the end.
Today, as we spend time in His sight and receive from Him the bright light of the Gospel, may we leave with this light burning in our hearts and hands and share it with others. As I have shared with the children that they are “God’s Star” (show the star) and so are you. Be God’s STAR and lead others to Bethlehem. My prayers are, as He worked to save many, may the Holy Spirit continue to bless our efforts to reach out to those who are still walking in darkness? For indeed the light has come, therefore, arise, shine and let the brightness of His light reach out to others. Amen!
Now the peace…
Soli Deo Gloria