Lets us worship with our
first Hymn: “Hark the heralds”
Prayer and Lord’s
Sharing together: What is an Icon ?
A curious question? Last year I got a new mobile phone. It has a
touch screen, not as posh as an I phone, but the best I could manage!! Needless
to say it is quite clever. Computers and phones now nearly all work visually,
using things curiously called icons, which is strange really, because this word
is an ancient religious word in origin. When my phone wants to tell me
something, for example: that I have a message. or that someone has tried to
call me; an icon appears on my touch screen. If I can’t see the Icon I can’t
see the message. Interestingly, one thing is missing from our nativity. That is
Baby Jesus Icon of God’s message.
According to the writer
of Matthew’s Gospel, wise men came from the east and the star stopped on the
house, as an Icon, to tell them a special message. For all the Christians, and
for Mathew, Mark, Luke and John, and for every disciple of Jesus; Jesus is the
very icon to God. Whoever has seen the Son has seen the father.
Second Hymn: “O little
town of Bethlehem”
leaves. Reading Old Testament and New
Testament Matthew 2:1-12
three kings of orient are"
Sermon: In the name
of the Father of the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The Epiphany is a
festival of light and enlightenment. Many years ago, Isaiah proclaimed this
statement:: “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord
has risen upon you”.
An epiphany is from the
ancient Greek word, “epiphaneia," it means manifestation, striking
appearance" an experience of sudden and striking realization.
"Epiphany" means "to show, make known, or reveal." However,
Τhe ophaneia means,
revelation of God. That’s where our word Theology comes from. The knowledge
about God, according to our church calendar, the celebration of Epiphany
started, in the Eastern Church, in 361 AD, as a commemoration of the birth of
Christ, and the visit of the three wise men, which is our focus today.
Christian theology sees Jesus as the
revelation of God. It is by looking to Jesus, as the pioneer, and perfector, of
our faith, that we learn, not only how to live, as humans, but also develop further
relationship with God through Jesus Christ; as he said: “I am the way, the
truth and the life.” Jesus, in what he says, and does, keeps reminding us about
loving, each other, loving God and keeping this channel of Love open for
all—both ways: horizontal and vertical directions. Which means it is important
to maintain a good relationship on both levels, man to man and man to God.
Today, being epiphany, is the time,
we recognise something in Christ in a fresh way, to develop a special personal
relationship with Jesus. It is the time when the penny drops—all made clear. We
see clearly what it is that we are
looking at. The icon is put into place and the purpose is made clear. Yet in 1
Corinthians 13:12, St Paul
says: “ Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror.
All that I know now is
partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then
one day we will see Him face to face; Just as when one looks upon an object,
openly and clearly.
All the biblical stories
are moments of Epiphany. In this sense what we call the season of Epiphany is
part of the season of Christmas. We get a series of other types of Epiphany
moments: John the Baptist’s witness about Jesus, as the Lamb of God, who takes
away the sins of the world. That was an Epiphany experience for John.
For some, the teaching
and the miracles of Jesus are Epiphany. There are so many other ways of
recognizing the significance and importance of Jesus.
Each one of us here will
have had moments of epiphany, throughout the journey of faith. Moments, when we
have realized something important about God’s love. Moments, sometimes,
surprising ones too.
The journey of the
shepherds and the wise men from the East, reminds us that, the wise and simple
people of the world must still journey, continuously, so that they can adore
With the wise Men,
humanity’s Epiphany and pilgrimage to Jesus Christ, begins – to the God who was
born in a stable, who died on the Cross and who, having risen from the dead,
remains with us now and always, as Emmanuel, means God with us, until the end
of the world (cf. Mt 28:20). The Church reads this account from Matthew’s
Gospel alongside the vision of the prophet Isaiah, which we heard in the first
reading.: The journey of these men is just the beginning of Epiphany for them.
Before the wise men
managed to see the baby in a house, came the shepherds, to see the baby in the
manger – simple souls, who were considered ritually unclean and untouchable,
yet they dwelt closer to the God, who became a child, and they could easily “go
over” to him and recognize him as Lord even in the stable.
But now the wise and
simple people of this world, are also coming to faith, as it is a spiritual
journey for them all. Great and small, men and women, young and old, of all
cultures and all peoples, are still coming in our 21st century to
adore Him, as their Lord and saviour.
The men from the East
are the first, followed by many more, throughout the centuries. After the great
vision of Isaiah, the Letter to the Ephesians expresses, the same idea in
rather sober and simple terms: the Gentiles share the same heritage (cf. Eph
The wise men from the East opened
up, the path of the Gentiles to Christ. This should be our mission, allowing
for all the differences, in vocation and mission, inviting other people to
share our Epiphany experience of Christ with them. We may well look to these
figures, the first Gentiles to find the pathway to Christ.
The experts tell us that they
belonged to the great astronomical tradition, that had developed in Mesopotamia over the centuries, and continued to
flourish. No doubt there were many astronomers in ancient Babylon, but only these few set off, to
follow the star that they recognized as the star of the promise, the star of
the wonder and the star of the true light, pointing them along the path towards
the true King and Saviour of the world. They were, as we might say, men of
science, but not simply in the sense that they were searching for a wide range
of knowledge: they wanted something more, something spiritual. They explored
this promise of a saviour. They were men with restless hearts, not satisfied
with the superficial and the ordinary things of this life. They were men in
search of the promise, in search of God. They were watchful men, capable of
reading God’s signs, his soft and penetrating Iconic language. But they were
also courageous, yet very humble: we can imagine them having to endure a
certain amount of mockery, for setting off to find the King of the Jews, at the
cost of so much effort.
Still, it is a hard and dangerous
journey for some people seeking the Lord today. But for the seekers it mattered
little, what this or that person would say, what even influential and clever
people thought and said about them. For them it was a question of looking for
the truth and the saviour himself, human opinion is not important for them.
Hence, the wise men took upon themselves, the sacrifices and the efforts of a
long and uncertain journey. Their humble courage was, what enabled them to bend
down before the child, even the child of poor people, and to recognize in him
the promised King, the one they had set out, on both their outward and their
inward journey, to seek and to know the Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. The Old
Testament speaks of gifts of gold and frankincense being brought to Zion, and Psalm 72 speaks
of kings coming, bearing gifts of gold, many, many years ago.
In the New Testament, a
statement is being made about Jesus’ ministry, and about the church: the gospel
is to be taught to all nations. This is a celebration of inclusiveness,
reaching out to all, with the love of Christ. At every Epiphany, comes
recognition, things slip into place, and things feel right once again.
We, the Christian Church
is called to reveal this Epiphany to a waiting and expectant World. Let us
renew and refresh our own faith and our relationship with our Lord, and
enlighten our own minds, hearts, souls and share with others what we are
Let’s have a silent
reflection for a few moments.
Fourth Hymn: "Bethlehem, a noble
Please remain seated as
offering will be uplifted.
Prayer for offering and
Fifth Hymn: "Wise
men, they came to look for wisdom"
Now Go in peace and serve the Lord,
may the grace of the prince of peace, and love of everlasting father and
fellowship of the Holy comforter and counsellor be with you all now and forever