Podcast Reflections

Sermon for the Feast of the Epiphany

Listen to or read a sermon for the Feast of the Epiphany, Sunday 3 January 2021, by the Revd Stephen Buckman

Today the Church reflects upon the final element to be added to our Crib Scenes – the coming of the wise men to worship the Christ-child as he lay in the manger.

As we contemplate the actions of the wise men, we are challenged to consider what they teach us about how we should respond to God’s call in our lives.

The wise men had a vocation – a calling – which they followed:

  • They recognized their calling through careful study and contemplation.
  • Then, having discerned the call of God, they followed that call.
  • They made a great journey – possibly as far as 1000 miles!
  • They chose, collected and brought precious gifts.
  • At the stable they fell down and worshipped.

Along the way, they encountered the political machinations of this world in their dealings with Herod.

Then they were ready to hear and obey the instructions of the Angel, and they travelled home by another route.

There are many ways of responding to God’s call –

  • For some, there is the St Paul – Road to Damascus type of call.
  • Others follow the example of the Apostle Matthew – Jesus met him, asked him to follow, and he got up and followed without hesitation or question.
  • For others, the process is much slower – no blinding light – just a quiet and growing certainty.

Often the first sense that God is calling us comes as a sighting of the Star of Bethlehem – but as a star shining very dimly in the far distance.

Like the wise men we see the signs of God’s call, …

  • but those signs may not respect the comfortable lives we have carved out for ourselves;
  • those signs may well only afford tiny glimpses of the light that shines in the world through the Incarnation of Jesus Christ;
  • those signs – whatever they may be – will be personal to you.

There is no point trying to list examples of how God might be calling you – they are that personal, but …

  • it will mean something to you;
  • it may be great or it may be small;
  • but, it will be perfectly clear to you that God wants you to share in the gift of his love for all people.

That is, of course, one of the essential elements of the story of the wise men –

  • they were from out of town;
  • they weren’t members of the same religion or culture;
  • yet, they were called.

We know nothing of their backgrounds, other than they were wise men. Perhaps that is why they were ‘wise’ – they heard and recognized God’s call – then they acted in response to that call.

They embarked upon a long and difficult journey. There must have been moments when they wondered whether it was worthwhile, or whether they were simply deceiving themselves.

But – they laboured on – searching – hoping!

Then they had the moment of Epiphany – they saw and they recognized the divinity of the Christ-child.

And, of course, it didn’t end there –

  • They didn’t only offer the sacrifice of making a long journey – they also offer the most valuable gifts they had.
  • They knelt and worshipped, and they gave everything.
  • Then, they went back by a different route – changed – and trusting in the protective love of God.

So – where are we on our journey towards God?

  • Have we just set out, or are we feeling that we’ve already been travelling long and hard?
  • Are we ready to meet the reality of Jesus?
  • Are we ready to offer the most precious gift we have – our own talents and skills?
  • Are we ready to travel by a different route?
  • Are we ready to say – We have seen his star, and are come?

Are we ready to hear those words of Jesus – Follow me – and respond with enthusiasm and joy?