by Rose Marie Terborg Davis, Diocese of Guyana
Collect for the Epiphany – O God, by the leading of the star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (BCP, CPWI pg. 160)
Isaiah 60: 1 – 6
The Prophet’s vision of Christ’s birth and prosperity for the Israelites
The prophet foretold the birth of the Christ child, urging the Israelites, to “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you …… the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you even though darkness would cover the earth,” (Isaiah 60: 1, 2). In v.3. the prophet seems to speak directly to the Christ child, who was to come, when he said “Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn (v.3) suggesting that at his birth (his dawn) he would be attended by kings, and other important people; that people the world over, would look to him for guidance i.e. come to His light.
The prophet envisages prosperity for the Israelites, viz. return of their children from exile; countries finding them attractive to trade with, and so forth. This is in contrast to the writing in the previous chapter (59), where darkness had enveloped the Israelites, because they had strayed from the word of God, and as a result of their disobedience, they had suffered adverse consequences. In Isaiah 59: 2, for example, the prophet says “……your iniquities have been barriers between you and God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear”. In Isaiah 59: 8-9 he describes the results of their actions: “The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths. Their roads they have made crooked; no one who walks in them knows peace” They also understood their situation. They acknowledged “……… justice is far from us; and righteousness does not reach us; we wait for light, and lo! There is darkness; and for brightness, but we walk in gloom”.
However, with the coming of the new dawn, the prophetic voice says, their light has come! ” Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you. The wealth of the nations shall come to you” (60:5).
Psalm 72: 1 – 7, 10 – 14
In today’s reading The Psalmist pleads for a righteous and fair leader, a true King. Previous kings had not lived up to expectations as we read in the scriptures (2 Kings 17: 8). We would know from experience that earthly leaders over time who gain power can become self-serving, tending to serve narrow partisan interests, and not display a concern for all whom they swore to protect and serve. It is a common human failure to take our eyes off of the Light and dwell in the darkness.
The Psalmist’s description of the desired qualities/characteristics mirror the qualities of Christ, wherein he prays for a righteous judge, redeemer, a champion of the poor, compassionate, a prince of peace; qualities that Christ emulated when He came.
Ephesians 3: 1 – 12
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he speaks of this ‘mystery’ of God being revealed not only to the Israelites, but to the whole world! The whole world has access to God, through Christ. God made it possible for all of us to have communion with Him, through the Son, who came to bear our sins.
Paul had an Epiphany too. The “mystery” of Christ was revealed to him; the “mystery” of God’s grace; a mystery which was not previously known to mankind; that with Christ’s coming, all, not just the Jews, but all people would have access; all can share, in “the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Eph. 3:6).
Matthew 2: 1 – 12
In our readings today for Epiphany, the revelation is about the manifestation of Christ. Wise men/Maji came to Jerusalem searching for the Christ Child. They declared: “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising and have come to pay him homage.” (Mat. 2:2)
Herod the King was not happy with this statement, and along with all of Jerusalem, was frightened by it. He called for all his top officials, ‘his chief priests and scribes’, to enquire of them about this important birth. It was revealed that they were aware of the prophecy of the birth and indicated to the King that the birth of the Christ Child had been foretold by the prophet and where the birth was expected to take place (Bethlehem in Judea) [v.5]
This was an “Aha” moment for them; the realization that what was prophesied so long ago, was coming to pass.
The wise men came bearing gifts fit for a king, to worship him (Matthew 2:11).
- Theme for today: The Love of God (John 3:16)
- What is an Epiphany?
- The experience of having something revealed to you
- Having an “Aha” moment
- A moment when you realize something
- g. finding out that the Lord is real; starting a relationship with Him.
- The Epiphany
- Manifestation of Christ
- No ordinary birth
- “King of the Jews”, as described by the wise men/Maji
- A revelation/an Epiphany/An “Aha” moment
- Coming to pass what the author of Isaiah had prophesied so long ago.
- Walking in the Light?
- Is our walk one of darkness or light? Does it feel like God is not there? Are we depending on His Word?
- Israelites walked in darkness (Isaiah 59) through disobedience to God; not keeping His statutes and decrees.
- Acting against His Word causes a feeling of separation.
- g. when we do not show love to those we interact with, our own actions cause us to feel separated from God
- But there is hope, redemption! God is merciful. Omnipresent
- Turn away from evil actions and a new dawn rises, as it did for the Israelites.
- Nothing can separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:39).
- God did not send His Son into the World to condemn the world, but that the world through Him, might be saved (John 3:17). He said he will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13: 5)
- Our negative actions bring us to a place of darkness, away from the Light.
- Christ and Leadership
- Leaders have an important role in society. Leaders can:
- Create an environment that helps the weak and vulnerable
- Or an environment that perpetuates inequality
- Inequality causes suffering – breeds anger, frustration, substance abuse, violence (in the home and other places)
- Disadvantaged persons
- Christ – our example of how to live an abundant life (Psalm 72).
- Defender of the poor
- Deliverer of the needy
- confronting the oppressor (advocating for better conditions that favour those who are oppressed)
- life-giving (like rain that falls on mown grass, like showers that water the earth).
- Leaders have an important role in society. Leaders can:
- Celebrate Epiphany by:
- reflecting on how we treat others, especially those less fortunate that we interact with – persons in the workplace, those whom we encounter in the streets; wherever we go.
- Be guided by the characteristics/qualities identified by the Psalmist in today’s reading
- Draw nearer to the Light of Christ; the Word a lantern to our feet and a light to our path (Ps. 119:105).
- Create a revival in communities that would spread to other areas
- Be grateful for all that God has done – Give thanks.
- “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish but have everlasting life”. (John 3: 16)
Songs of Thankfulness and Praise
Search me O God
Brother, Sister, Let Me Serve You
Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
God is working His purpose out
by Rose Marie Terborg Davis, Guyana
The Book of Common Prayer (BCP), The Church in the Province of the West Indies (CPWI) 2007
The Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), Thomas Nelson Publishers 1989
 Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews13:5 NRSV)