Epiphany – Matthew 2: 1-12 and Isaiah 60: 1-6

Epiphany – Matthew 2: 1-12 and Isaiah 60: 1-6

It is worth remembering when we read the Gospels, that they were written for and circulated among a small church that was suffering from a persecution intended to obliterate it entirely.

So Matthew is reminding a tiny and persecuted church about the visit of the wise men.  These strange men who came from a strange place for their own strange reasons to visit the Christ child.  Remember these men, Matthew is saying to the small and persecuted church.

Matthew is reminding the church about the visit of the wise men because their visit fulfils the prophecy of Isaiah.  Isaiah told a people who had suffered defeat and exile that one day the nations of the world would come to them bearing gifts.  An unlikely prospect for this tiny and persecuted nation, but that is what the prophecy was.

And there is an unlikely twist in the tale of the wise men itself.  They follow the star to Judea and naturally assume the boy who is to be King will be found in the capital city, Jerusalem.  But he is not there.  They are redirected to the village of Bethlehem and to a child laid in a manger whose only courtiers thus far have been shepherds.

Today the church all over the world celebrates its epiphany.  It has woken up to this story of hope in unlikely circumstances.  It has opened its eyes to God’s action in the world when we do not expect it.  And our brothers and sisters across the world have their own stories of defeat, exile and persecution; whether as individuals or as churches.  Yet, today they will celebrate this story of hope.

However beleaguered and defeated you may feel; whatever despair you are in; whatever cynicism has affected your feelings about people around you and the possibility of transformation in their lives; the message of this familiar story is that God’s action will triumph.  He is on the move in the world in ways we do not expect and cannot predict.

The church in this community is not tiny or persecuted, but nationally and locally, we are in a period of retreat so people may assume that we are despondent and pessimistic.  But we are not. We remain optimistic and full of hope.  God is on the move.  He is drawing people to himself through Jesus Christ in ways we cannot predict. 

Sermons and Letters
Webpage icon Epiphany 4. Deuteronomy 18: 15-20 & Mark 1: 21-28
Webpage icon The Wedding at Cana – John 2: 1-11
Webpage icon Second Sunday of Epiphany - John 1: 43-51
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