Today is the celebration of Epiphany in many churches. Epiphany is the feast of the "manifestation" of Jesus (epiphaneia) has had various connections in church history with events associated with the divinity of the infant Jesus. It now generally refers to the manifestation of his divinity to the magi in Matthew 2:1-12, which was the text of today’s liturgy and the basis for the sermon in my own local church. This celebration goes back at least to Clement of Alexandria in the third century. All discussions about the proper dating of the feast aside it is a beautiful reminder, at least for me, of why and how liturgical worship helps the church focus upon the great events of Christ’s life and ministry.
The sermon that I heard, by my friend Tom Lyberg, focused on the "good news" that Jesus brought into the world. Tom showed us how we can hear modern news as "bad" much of the time or we can listen for the "good news" as well. There is a lot of good news in today’s world that 24-7 news pays no attention to at all but clearly the greatest of all good news is that the light that enlightens all people has come into this dark world and is shining brightly in many places and contexts in our day. Is it shining in you and through you?
The closing song of our liturgy today (sung to the tune St. Anne CM, "O God, Our Help in Ages Past") went like this:
"The church of Christ in ev’ry age, Must Rise and take its stand, To share the light of God’s own love, Chase darkness from the land.
The people of the church today, Must likewise rise above, The common goals the world holds forth, To serve their Lord in love.
To serve those who in darkness live, To share the Gospel light, To tell the story of the cross, To let God’s love shine bright."
This song followed the taking of the body and blood of Christ in the communion meal. What a joy it was to celebrate Epiphany Sunday. Praise be to God!