Cathy Cox

Sunday, JANUARY 8, 2023 (Epiphany delayed)

“Oh, God, by the leading of the star you manifested your only Son to the people of the earth…”

“Lead us…to your presence…where we may see your glory face to face…”

“Opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh…”

We could spend a long time mediating on just these few phrases –

The collect reminds us that it was an ordinary thing – a star – a comet – that, because a few men, magi, paid attention to it within their own context, understood it within their own worldview, from their own understanding, they got up and followed it – They saw it at its rising and left their sacred fire untended, and followed. They left their responsibilities unfulfilled, their work undone, their families alone – and went.

And because they followed what nobody else even noticed, they were rewarded. And their arrival was understood forever after as the first manifestation of God in Christ to the Gentiles – the first outsiders to know that they, too, were included in the chosen people of God – chosen to rejoice, chosen to understand the incredible love of God for the whole created universe. Because they followed what they understood all the way to the house where the child was, we know for sure that we gentiles are also included in the people of God. Paul said it – “In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed…”

If you didn’t read the early sermons that I included in the newsletters over the last two or three days, go back and read them – you will see what those second and third century Christians understood about Epiphany, the “revealing“, the “unveiling“ of this mystery – and why this was such an important feast for them – more than Christmas itself – and why it was so widely celebrated earlier…

Secondly, – the Collect asks that God would lead us, also – to God’s own presence – where we may see God’s glory face to face.
Well, I pray that, too – for myself – for you.
But where is that?
And how do we “get “ there?
Where is God?

Since the Incarnation, God is WITH US – not far away.
We don’t need a comet – or any other outside phenomenon or miracle or event – to find Him.

Look inside.
Look within.
Look deep within your own heart.
And look, also at each other.
Look into each others’ faces.
Look into each others’ hearts.

To do that, you will need to stop gazing all around at the crazy and distracting and disturbing things in this world.
You will have to stop listening to them, too.
For a few minutes every day, STOP.
You don’t need to follow a star – but you do need to stop running after all kinds of other things – just for awhile.

And if you do, you will find God leading you to yourself, and in doing that, leading you to Himself – who dwells within.
And you will be shocked to find that right there – within you, within others – and yes, in this mystery of the Eucharist we share, you WILL see God’s glory face to face.
Finally, we hear Matthew tell how the wise men brought gifts to the child – costly ones – ones that recognized his dignity – but which also revealed their own.
They gave precious things – symbolic, yes, but costly, too.

They did not just come to gawk, but to give.
They came to pour out before this child their own wealth, seeing that the little one playing around Mary’s feet was really the one they sought – who would in fact become the King of all kings, and the King of creation, the Lord of heaven and earth, the royal Lover of all humankind, the one who would make the whole world understand the power of that Love – the one to whom all honor should be paid. And they paid it.

They trusted that.
Incredible as if must have been to see a toddler with Mary, his mother, and recognize what that meant – and would forever mean – they did.

Now here’s the point.
When we are led to see the Lord Christ dwelling within ourselves – or when we see Him manifested in others – or when we find Him present in bread and wine – what do we do?

Looking is not enough to satisfy our hunger for intimacy.
And so we give.

Perhaps you remember that lovely Christmas carol we sang – the poem –
“If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb – if I were a wise man, I would do my part – but what can I give him – give my heart.”

And having done that – if we really do give our hearts away to the One who loves us – We will discover how deeply and fully loved we are- and then every other gift we can give is easy. Is natural.
Is right –

Yesterday we saw Ryan give himself away – totally – to God and to the service of God as this Church has understood it –
He and the other three candidates answered every single question the bishop asked them, affirmatively – and they were searching questions, too – and they signed a paper to that effect – to be kept in the archives of the Church forever – those vows bind him to the service of God.
It was not a light moment – although it was a joyful one.
It was serious, solemn, as the bishop reminded then again and again.

And yet not one of them looked as if they regretted it.
None of them chose to turn and run.
None of them acted as if this was a chore they’d rather not perform.

When we are led to see God face to face, in mystery in each other, in service to others, when we “see God’s glory” – oh, yes, we know for sure we are in the right place – and that there is no gift too rich to offer – and no service too small, either.

The bishop bragged to other people yesterday about RB and Lindsey – she actually did, I heard her – She told people how they assist at the altar, how they make Jesus visible, how they already enable others to see God.

Ryan and RB – and you – and me.



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