Friday, January 4, 2008

The Epiphany

Lakota Star Quilt

Sermon for Epiphany, 2008
Fr. Tim Fountain

When I was in the Army, there was a cadence chant we used when running too far, too early in the morning:

Everywhere we go
People want to know
Who we are
Where we come from
So we tell them
We are…

My sermons through January will take their titles from this chant:
  • Jan. 6 - Who we are
  • Jan. 13 - Where we come from
  • Jan. 20 - So we tell them
  • Jan. 27 - We are…


1) We are people chosen by God.

  • The "wise men from the East" (Matthew 2:1-12) stand for God making himself known to all of our pagan ancestors, and to all of us.

  • When Jesus was born, the Jewish people stood in an exclusive relationship with God, but in Jesus God offered this relationship to all people. As our lesson from Ephesians says, In former generations this mystery was not made know to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

  • Romans11:17-18. We are people who God loves and brings to himself, like branches (Gentiles) grafted into a rooted tree (Jews), or like the wise men following the God-given star.

  • We travel from all kinds of backgrounds because God has pointed us toward his presence in Jesus Christ.

2) We are (we should be) people who point to Jesus.

  • Today we celebrate "Epiphany" – a Greek word meaning "manifestation." To "manifest" is to make something "apparent to the senses or the mind, obvious, to show plainly or reveal" (Webster’s New World Dictionary).

  • The theme of this day and this church season is that God is manifested in Jesus Christ.

  • John 1:14. Pointing to Jesus as THE Epiphany of God is what separates us from all other religions or philosophies.

3) We are good news to some and bad news to others.

  • The presence of God in Jesus is good news to some, such as the wise men who were "overwhelmed with joy."

  • But the presence of God in Jesus is a challenge to others: "King Herod was frightened."

  • II Corinthians 2:15-16. Just by being people who are chosen by God and who point to Jesus, we will bring joy to people who seek God and we will offend those who are rejecting him.

4) We are stewards of resources to use in God’s service.

  • We have time. The wise men read a sign in the heavens. Paul was in the right "generation" to spread the news of Jesus Christ. We all exist in a time with special relevance to God’s plan. Our moments have meaning.

  • We have talent. Our lesson from Ephesians says, Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. We all have "spiritual gifts," given by God to use in his service. Our ministries have meaning.

  • We have treasure. The wise men honored Christ with costly gifts, not to mention the costs they incurred by their long journey. The gold they gave might well have provided for Jesus’ family during a time when they had to hide out from King Herod. Our money has meaning.

"Who we are" is a gift from God, and we are recognized by what we do with it:

  • Do we worship well, thanking God from our hearts for choosing us as his own?

  • Do we take opportunities to point to Jesus so others can find him?

  • Do our words and actions have enough of Jesus to encourage some people and aggravate others?

  • Do we use our meaningful moments, ministries and money to honor Jesus?

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

1 comment:

Alice C. Linsley said...

An excellent sermon! I like this idea, based on the Army chant. I'm going to forward this to my Army friends.