Alva Review-Courier -

By Rev. Sarah Chivington-Buck
First Presbyterian Church 

We can be like the Wise Men: open to new epiphanies

 

January 12, 2018



In our culture many people experience a post-holiday crash. Some are exhausted from parties and hosting family from out of town. Some are sad to see the empty place where the light of the Christmas tree glowed. Some are trying to get back on a reasonable eating plan after the indulgence of the holidays, while others are already weary of the New Year’s resolution they made but can’t quite seem to keep. What do we have to look forward to as these winter months stretch out before us?

Valentine’s Day candy and décor already fill the store aisles. Easter baskets and candy will be on the shelves before Valentine’s Day is even over. We seem to get rushed from one holiday to the next by the consumerism of our society. For me, January can seem long and barren – no more twinkling lights or Christmas music or gingerbread cookies. But is anticipation of a commercialized holiday devoted to chocolate and romantic love enough to keep our spirits up for the next month? I need help enduring the in-between times and being patient when it seems that all is dead in the cold of winter.

At the Presbyterian church we had our Epiphany service this past Sunday and read about the Wise Men from the East who followed a star in search of Jesus. In its lower-case form, “epiphany” applies to any manifestation of deity. In popular usage it has come to mean any insightful or dramatic moment that instills new spiritual insight, vision, or perspective. In our lives, how open are we to epiphanies, to manifestations of God’s light and love?

We can learn some important lessons from these enigmatic Wise Men who journeyed so far, believing that the star was leading them somewhere worth all the trouble. First of all, they had been studying. They had invested great time and effort to know history, astronomy and the sacred texts they had access to. But the Wise Men were not just scholars with their noses in books, but were also aware of their surroundings. They were paying attention to what was happening in the sky, as well as to political and geographical details. And once they put together what they had studied about and what they were experiencing themselves, they were willing to take a journey to confirm what they sensed was being revealed to them. They loaded up their treasure chests and went in search of this newborn king.

The Wise Men weren’t afraid to stop and ask for directions. Though Herod’s motives were twisted, the Wise Men got the information they needed to find the reason for their journey. When the star at last stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy! When they saw Mary and Joseph and the baby, they were not disappointed or put off by the humble surroundings; instead, they bowed down and worshiped! In response to this incredible gift of revelation given to them by God, they gave their own gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Perhaps the most valuable lesson we can learn from the Wise Men is that they remained open even after having supposedly attained what they were searching for. Rather than charging back to Jerusalem and then on back home, they listened to God’s message that came to them in a dream. Because of their ongoing openness to epiphanies, they heeded the warning and made the pilgrimage back home on a different route.

So during the in-between times, instead of rushing toward the next holiday, we can be like the patient Wise Men. We can study the Scriptures as well as keep our eyes open to what is happening around us so we are ready when God speaks to us. We can be willing to go on a journey toward what God is inviting. We can be humble enough to ask for directions and guidance. We can let ourselves be surprised by joy, undeterred by the unexpected wrappings in which many gifts come. And like the Wise Men, we can remain open to new messages, new epiphanies, as the light of God shines in even the darkest of times, trusting that we are being guided by our good and gracious Savior.

 

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