Epiphany 2021

Epiphany 2021

Today is a day of joy. It’s a day of happiness, it’s a day of gifts.

Matthew 2:1-12

[automatically transcribed]

In the name of the father and of the son of the Holy Spirit, Amen, please sit. Today is a day of joy. It’s a day of happiness, it’s a day of gifts. And I may just be feeling that myself. Epiphany I love because it was the day we baptized Edmund six days after he was born. We took him into church and he was baptized. And so that always makes me happy. And we light a candle and we have presents and we have lovely food.

Last night we had jelly and angel delight, which seems to have replaced blancmange but angel delight. So I’m always happy at this time of year. I’m still enjoying Christmas, I’m still enjoying the friendship. And I’m happy today because there are so many people here praising God. And the wise men, I think the magi would have felt much the same, they would have been filled with joy at somehow sidestepping the traps that Herod had put in front of them.

They would have been joyful. They fell at their knees in homage to Jesus. They’ve come to the end of the journey. They’d been they they they they followed the science of the star and they found Jesus in Bethlehem they avoided the tricks of Herod. And here was the Holy Family. And that fills me with warmth when I picture that scene, because unlike Christmas Day, unlike Christmas morning, when what we have in our heads is the difficult journey, the no room at the inn, the stable, the manger, the difficulty of everything going on, and then the coming of Jesus Christ, that joy at the end at Epiphany what we have is that image in our heads of the Holy Family snuggled up warm in that stable.

With Mary holding Jesus in her arms, cooing to him with Joseph, with his arms around his family, singing a lullaby to comfort them in the night. Epiphany is a day of joy and of celebration and of comfort, and so joyfully they came and joyfully they brought gifts while it was Christmas after all. They brought gold, gold for a king gold, a gift for a king, recognizing in that tiny child in the manger the kingship of Jesus Christ over us, recognizing in him, his lordship over us.

And teaching us that we first must submit to Jesus before we can call him friend. We submit to the love of Jesus Christ in our lives, and then we can call him a friend. We submit to baptism in his name in the Holy Spirit. And we call him friend.

Frankincense. Frankincense, because he is God, and as the Psalmist says, and as I pray over the incense before we start every mass, may our prayers rise before you oh, God, as this incense.

Incense, the gift of God, incense, recognizing that this child, not only King, this child, this frail child being held by his mother is not just king, but he is God. This child is God in our life and he is our priest. Frankincense given to priests. All right, who knows the Latin word for priest? Angus I should look at you. What’s the Latin word for priest, fellow priest sitting in mufti?

Well, it’s pontifex. The Latin word for priest is pontifex, which literally translates as bridge builder. Jesus Christ is the bridge builder between us and God.

And finally, of course, myrrh. A gift for a mortal man, Jesus Christ, our king, Jesus Christ, our Lord Jesus Christ, who came to live among us and ultimately to die for us, Jesus Christ King who reigns from the cross, Jesus Christ, God, who embraces us in his love and in his teaching and carries us to God and Jesus Christ, man who came to die for our sins.

And our scripture today, the story of the wise men coming to the manger in Bethlehem is a foretelling of the whole story of scripture. The whole sweep of gospel is in this story. We get a little precis of what is to come in this scripture.

And so we start the year with this scripture. We start the year with Epiphanny, we turn our backs to 2020 and we turn towards 2021 with that knowledge in our hearts of what is to come.

And so we must now consider, just like the magi, just like those wise men two thousand years ago, what our gifts should be when we come to Jesus Christ, when we come through these doors, when we put our feet on the floor in the morning and we first turn to Jesus Christ, what gifts do we bring him? Do we approach Jesus Christ as God, as man, as the man who came to die for us and bring him gifts in that joyfulness?

Or do we sometimes come through these doors? And so if you like, what we have today is a life hack of how we can approach Jesus Christ when we come to church, when we put our feet on the floor in the morning, and when we pray to God, we can come to him with the joy of Christmas in our hearts, with the joy of what he is to be for us in our hearts. And we consider what gifts we can bring to him.

And we can ask ourselves today, God, will I submit to you as my king, will I give praise to you as my God? Will I die to sin, just as you died, for my sins to be forgiven?

And each one of those things is given in joy. Each one of those interactions we have with every person we meet that day is done, in joy the joy of giving those gifts, of coming to know Jesus better through them.