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Archive for the ‘Epiphany’ Category

At our church, we are going through The Story, which provides a overview of the biblical narrative by using actual scripture portions from the NIV.  This past week we came to chapter 17, which told of the failures of the wicked Kings and the eventual fall  and destruction of Jerusalem.  Israel had fallen because it had failed to live up to its God given task of being a light unto the world. God had chosen the offspring of Abraham to be a blessing to the surrounding nations. Instead, Israel became like its neighbors, returned to idolatry, and eventually was destroyed.   Israel had misrepresented God, and God had enough.  The city of Jerusalem was crushed, the temple burnt, the people sent into exile.

Jeremiah laments the situation: “How lonely sits the city that was full of people…Judah has gone into exile because of affliction and hard servitude…All who pass along the way clap their hands at you; they hiss and away their heads at the daughter of Jerusalem; Is this the city that was called the perfection of beauty, the joy of all the earth?”  The light had been snuff out with nothing remaining except a smoldering wick.

Though Jeremiah was the weeping prophet, he found reason for hope:  “The steadfast lover of the Lord never cease; his mercies never come to an end: they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  Jeremiah was confident that God would once again prove his faithfulness. And God did. Centuries later God sent the true faithful Israelite to be a blessing to all the earth, to be a light unto the world. Jesus said that now, he himself, was the light of the world, and that whoever followed him would not walk in darkness.  The light of Israel had been restored in a brighter way than ever imagined. Now, through the Messiah, God has ensured that light would no longer be trapped under that basket of self preservation that leads only to smoldering wicks.   Instead, God has determined Jesus followers would be the  light on display for all the world to see, so that he may receive glory from all the nations.    As we continue in the Epiphany season, lets remember that our task is to carry forth the light of Christ to the world around us.

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Pietro Perugino - The Adoration of the Magi (E...

Pietro Perugino – The Adoration of the Magi (Epiphany) – WGA17259 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In this week following the Epiphany of our Lord, we remember the revealing of Christ to the gentiles.  It is truly good news that the Jewish Messiah would come not just for Israel, but for all nations. We are all recipients of this grace.

Those wise men who came from the east were the first non-Jews to see the Christ.  The folks in Israel had not really paid much attention to this baby who was destined to be King of the Jews. However the Magi from a far away pagan land traveled hundreds of miles under the guidance of a star to see this child.  They were so excited to see this child that Matthew records that they “rejoiced exceedingly with great joy”  when they got close to Jesus. When they came into his presence they fell down and worshiped him.

When King Herod, King of Judea,  did find out about this child, he was not happy to hear about one who had “been born King of the Jews.”  He did not worship him; he declared war on him. Attempting to eliminate any threat to his throne, he had the infant boys of Bethlehem murdered.

As the gospel of John says, “he came unto his own, and his own did not receive him.” Many in Israel did not recognize the majesty of Jesus, while many pagans from around the world came to believe in him as their Lord.  This is not to pick on the first century Jews; we too fail to see the glory of God in Jesus Christ.

Far too often, we pay little attention to the King in our own midst. We strive for control of our own lives, and often buck against any perceived threats that would undermine our own little kingdom. When we are confronted with the news that the true King is here, we must be careful not to rebel against him as Herod did. Of course, we wouldn’t go to the extremes that Herod did in trying to eliminate the threat to his position. However, even our simple ignoring of his presence is really the same as rebellion against him.  He is a kind and gentle king, but he is still King.

Rather, God wants us to gladly bring him our worship and treasure as the Magi did.  This requires time and effort –  just like the Magi’s long and hard trip across the hot desert. However, the payoff will be worth it, as Hebrews says, “he rewards those who seek him.”

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