It has finally arrived, the last day of Christmas, the day of Epiphany that we celebrate on January 6. The twelve days of Christmas now are past and a new season, a season of light, emerges. We celebrate the light coming into the world today and being revealed to Gentiles, specifically The Wise Men who came from the East to find the new born king. They knew nothing about where they were going and what they were looking for. They were just curious, having seen a new star in the sky, and thinking that such an event in the heavens signaled something important happening on earth, they began a journey to go the place where the star would lead them. Perhaps it would signal the birth of a very special person, royalty, a king perhaps, so they came prepared with gifts to offer that special person.
Today is the day we celebrate the discovery of the Wise Men and the light that came into the world so long ago and continues to shine into our lives today. The star of Bethlehem led Wise Men to seek out and find what the star would make clear to them. They began a long and arduous journey and when they reached the end of their journey, they were overwhelmed with joy.
Joel Payne, a British minister and song writer, wrote a blog entry entitled, "A Magi-cal Approach to Worship" in which he gave 6 comparisons of what the Wise Men did to find the Christ Child and what we do in worship when we go to church. Here are his points, briefly:
1. They made an effort---The Wise Men traveled many miles and gave up other things in life to find the Christ Child. We have to make an effort, to go, to give up other things in order to be in the place where we can worship. The beginning of the journey is often the hardest but it grants great rewards.
2. They came prepared---They came with gifts. They were ready for what they may find at the end of the road. We have to be prepared in our hearts to encounter the living Christ in our presence when we worship. Asking God to bless us as we enter the pew may be a step to help us to be prepared.
3. They were full of joy---They were overjoyed by being in the presence of Christ. We should anticipate joy when we go to worship. We should ask God to fill us with joy as we offer what we have to God and open our hearts to God.
4. They saw the child---They could have left their presents at the door and left but they entered the humble place where he lay so they could be in his presence. Worship is a participatory activity, not just something to observe from afar. Worship is an encounter with God where we want to see Jesus.
5. They bowed and worshiped---The Wise Men, believed to be wealthy persons, bowed before the baby they found. They lowered themselves in his presence as people do before royalty. We may not bow our bodies in worship but our hearts and attitudes become open to God's presence as we bow our hearts and minds in reverence.
6. They opened their treasures---What do we bring to lay before God in worship? Do we participate in worship, singing the hymns, saying the prayers, offering our time, talents, and treasure to God in humble service to God?
Joel Payne helped to author a Christmas Cantata that contained the song, "What Kind of Throne?" It contains this verse--"So, I'll bow down to worship the humblest of kings, and I'll bring him the best that I have, I'll say that I love him and that I am his, and I'll give him the throne of my heart, I'll give him the throne of my heart."
We may not have gold, frankincense, or myrrh to offer the Christ Child today on Epiphany Day but we all can give him the throne of our hearts and put him first in our lives, above all other cultural claims that prevent us from worshiping him. Epiphany Day begins the season of Epiphany which continues until Lent begins on February 18 this year. It is a season of reflection and devotion to the light that came into the world and illuminates our lives daily.