“Let us look up and follow the star!”

A sermon/reflection for The Epiphany/The Second Sunday after Christmas – Year B

The readings for this Sunday are those of Epiphany:

  • Isaiah 60.1-6

  • Psalm 72.1-7, 10-14

  • Ephesians 3. 1-12

  • Matthew 2.1-12

You might like to use the link below to find the above readings, and click on any of the reading above that you wish to use: http://www.katapi.org.uk/CommonWorship/CWLectionarySelV.php

Collect of the day

Let us first spend a few moments in silence to centre ourselves,
to gather ourselves in our souls,
to come before the Lord just as we are with our joys and sorrows,
our hopes and our fears, our loves and our pains.
Let us just focus our minds and hearts on Jesus
who is the answer for every problem.
Let us pray that the Spirit will work through our lives
to bring Christ to the world.

Silence is kept

O God,
who by the leading of a star
manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth:
mercifully grant that we,
who know you now by faith,
may at last behold your glory face to face;
and guide and sustain us,
that we may find our journey’s end
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Amen.

Prayer before the Sermon

Loving Heavenly Father,
we thank you for the words you have given us today.
We know they are words of life and salvation.
Open our hearts Father,
touch our souls,
help us to respond to your word
and know that you are indeed our Lord and Saviour.
May we experience in our hearts
your love and your presence always.

Amen.

A homily based on the readings of today is given below::

“Let us look up and follow the star!”

Prayer

Testimony

Today we celebrate “Epiphany” or “Manifestation of the Lord Jesus” to the whole world. After “Christmas” “Epiphany” in a way makes us come to full circle! Many churches place the statues of the “Magi” or “wise men” today. Christmas season is climaxed at “Epiphany”.

I am sure you all know what is gold but frankincense and myrrh are less common. But these are the gifts the wise men offered Jesus!

The famous Christian thinker Karl Rahner, in a sermon he gave on this feast, says that at Christmas God came to us and gifted himself to us. At “Epiphany” we come to God and make gifts to God.

Two elements:

1. God’s Gift: John 3.16 / Phil 2

Let us just think about this for a moment. It is an overwhelming and beautiful thought! God lowered himself and came to earth in the lowest of human forms – a baby, an infant helpless and fragile. God who is all powerful, all-knowing, all present became one of us in our most primitive form. If that wasn’t gift enough, as Paul tells us about in the Epistle to the Ephesians today, God came bearing the gift of grace that we receive not through any merits of our own, but simply because God loves us and chooses to give us himself as gift.

2. Our Gift

At “Epiphany” we celebrate the reverse – our gifts to God in the place of the wise men from the East who left everything behind them –their country of origin, their wealth, their families and travel far, making a difficult journey, led by a star that had appeared to them in the night.

They knew that the star that glowed in the sky foretold the birth of a mighty King, a special person, someone destined to be great. So they were willing to make the perilous and long journey. Inspite of the wicked King Herod they persevered and came to Bethlehem. We wonder whether they were surprised to see their journey end at such a humble stable before a helpless little child in a manger and two simple parents.

Even if they were surprised, they offered the child gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh symbolizing love, worship of God and suffering that the child before them would undergo.

The story of the Wise Men is referred to through the prophecies of Isaiah we read today – “Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” (Is 60.3) and “They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.” (Is 60:6) “Epiphany” reminds us that the nations, like the three wise men from the East, need to come to know the Lord by seeking him with all our hearts.

To conclude: Life is a Pilgrimage. The star is our faith in Jesus.

Like the Wise Men, we are on a journey as well. And if we are to have happy, fulfilled lives, we have to see the star in the sky of our hearts, the star of faith, that tells us that our God is at the end of our journey waiting for us, and maybe not in the way we even imagine it.

If we keep that goal in our lives, we will find it easier to put up with the ups and downs in the journey of our lives…suffering, depression, the trials of sickness and death, anxiety, fear and all the difficulties of life on earth.

What keeps us going and sustains us through all these ups and downs of life is knowing that we are following the star Jesus Christ and the gift of ourselves – our love, our praise, our sufferings. As the Psalmist says today: God delivers the needy one who calls…and saves the lives of the needy.” (Ps 72:12-13) And we are indeed needy on our journeys through life.

“Epiphany” reminds us of the Star (of faith) that points us to Jesus, the goal of our journey. In place of gold, frankincense and myrrh we can offer him is our love, our worship and our suffering. We can offer him our lives, our hearts, our time, our gifts, our generosity for God and His Kingdom.

That is what life is all about! To be with Jesus Christ! To live a True Life in God! That is what “Epiphany” reminds us of as Isaiah says today: “Then shall you see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice.” (Is 60.5) And this is the very Good News that the “star” of faith guides us on our journey of life. God has indeed blessed us!

As we break bread and share the wine, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, let us renew our love and faith in Jesus Christ as Lord of our hearts and lives and Lord of our world!

(This sermon is adapted from the Epiphany Sermon of Bishop Ron Stephens)
[Bishop Ron’s collected homilies for the last year A can be found on Amazon.com .
It is called “Teaching the Church Year”.]

[Revd Dr ST Mattapally, Rector, Springline Parish, Diocese of Lincoln]

Pause to pray …
A Prayer you can say now:

Lord Jesus,
I believe you are the Son of God.
Thank you for becoming one of us.
Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins.
Thank you for rising from the dead
to give me hope and the gift of eternal life.

I repent of my sins
and invite you into heart and life
as my Lord and Saviour.
Please grant me your Holy Spirit
so that I may know you, love you
and follow you every day of my life.

Amen.