This weekend we celebrate the Feast of Epiphany

Though the feast is properly kept on January 6th

Which is Monday


Epiphany is a word that has to do with revealing

Or unveiling

Or shining a light on something

So that it might be clearly seen


And as a feast of the Church

And connected to the Sundays that follow

Eventually leading up to the Feast of the Transfiguration

On the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday

And the beginning of our Lenten observance

This becomes a time for us to contemplate together

Just who this Christ is

And how he is to be revealed in and to the world

And what part we might play in that revelation…


This is a day deeply marked by our contemplation of light and darkness

As we hear through the words of the prophet Isaiah

In our first reading for today


As I read Isaiah I’m reminded of last week’s Gospel reading from John chapter 1

Where John poetically reflects on the coming of the Word


John writes: what has come into being through him was life

And the life was the light of all people.

The light shines in the darkness

And the darkness did not overcome it


I’ve reflected often in the days leading up to our keeping of this Christmas feast

On the various forms of darkness


And metaphorical

That we face as individuals

And as communities living in this day and age


So I won’t spend a lot of time this morning doing that again

Except to let you hear Isaiah’s words again:

For darkness shall cover the earth

And thick darkness the people


There is a cosmic


Eternal sense in which we can hear these words


From the time of the fall

God has promised redemption

And this redemption comes to us in

And through

This One who is the giver of life and light for all people


And though our darkness is real

And can seem overwhelming at points in our lives

We have the promise that the darkness will not overcome the light


Think about it

Even in the natural word

When one turns a light on in a darkened space

The light always wins out


If one opens a door from a lighted room

Into a darkened room

The darkness doesn’t spread from the dark room

To overtake the lighted room


The light pours forth from the lighted room

Into the darkness

Bringing new sight

And changing the state of the darkened room

While not decreasing the light in the lighted room


And so it is for us in this world too often marked by darkness

And pain


As God’s word of promise comes

It come to us

In the real world

In the midst of our real sorrow

And in the light of God’s promised coming

The darkness doesn’t stand a chance


And so the prophet continues

Calling us to community –

They all gather together

Sons and daughters from far away


Community is restored

And we realize again the blessing of being together

Living in the light and life of God’s word


This is who this Christ child is


He is the light

And his coming was announced in the rising of a long-awaited heavenly sign…


Strangely, though, this sign isn’t observed by those on the inside –

No, it’s not the insiders who catch the sign

But outsiders


Zoroastrian priests from Persia


Wise Men

Those who studied the great religions and philosophies of the world

These are the ones who observe the sign of his coming

In the form of a star rising from Jacob

As the Hebrew prophets had foretold

All the way back in the book of Numbers

In the Old Testament


And they follow the sign

And are led to worship the new-born King of the Jews


And I think this is so important –

So significant –

This Christ child is not born for just the Jews


As Isaiah observed that deep darkness covered the peoples

This One whose coming is announced by the rising of Jacob’s star

Is coming to bring light to all peoples


The 3rd chapter of the letter to the Ephesians

Which we read today as our second reading

Deals with this same thought


Paul has been commissioned by God to bring God’s grace to the Gentiles –

To the peoples, in other words


The mystery of the Gospel was revealed to him

So that he might reveal it to the nations –

To those who were thought to be outsiders


God’s grace

At work

Saving the world by the power of Christ’s death and resurrection

Is unbounded


No longer is it connected to just one people –

The chosen people who trace themselves back to Abraham


And Jacob


God’s grace in Christ –

This light that comes into the world

Conquering darkness

And making us see and be radiant –

Is now revealed

And even prefigured

As the wise men from the East bring their gifts

Of gold, frankincense and myrrh


Significant gifts

Gold to mark his kingship

Frankincense the honor he is due

And myrrh his bitter death


But this One is the light that no darkness can overcome

And so, even in death, darkness does not win the victory


This above all else is the sign of the light’s power over darkness

As by his resurrection


Our light

Brings light and life to all the world…


Paul says that he was given God’s grace so that he might bring the Gospel –

The good news of the boundless riches of Christ –

To the Gentiles

So that everyone will be able to see

The mystery of God’s plan that was hidden for ages

And now made known in Christ


But, you know, that’s not just Paul’s job

It’s up to us to participate, as well


We who are disciples of Jesus today –

Called to be faithful followers here and now –

Have our own role to play

In revealing this mystery of God’s grace


The light and life of God shines forth in our own day and age

As we do the work of evangelism –

Spreading the good news of God’s saving love

And inviting others to come and see –

To come and experience for themselves –

The difference it makes when we let the light of God’s loving grace

Dispel the darkness of our lives


By God’s Spirit, may we live such radiant lives.  Amen.