First Delivered on January 7, 2009
Text: Matthew 2:1-12
I have a confession to make. From time to time, I eat at McDonald’s and Burger King.
This isn’t entirely my fault. Whenever I ask my youngest grandson Blake where he wants to eats, he always chooses McDonalds or another fast-food restaurant because of the prizes being offered during a particular time.
One time, when we entered McDonalds, Blake ran to the poster listing all the potential prizes, and he pointed to the very prize he wanted in his Happy Meal. “I want this one!!!,” he said assuredly staring at a little green Shrek. Immediately alarms went off in my head: the prize in a particular Happy Meal box is somewhat random, and McDonalds at lunch time isn’t the place where you negotiate an alternative prize. Will Blake begin to cry if he gets the donkey instead of the Shrek figurine he wants? And if he does cry, how am I going to handle that in this crowded place?
When Blake looked into his Happy Meal and pulled out the donkey, and not Shrek, his eyes got big and a smile came across his face. “This is exactly what I wanted!” For Blake this was an epiphany. In fact, most weeks, whether at McDonalds or Burger King, he had experienced similar epiphanies. He rarely receives the prize he wants upon our entering the restaurant, but what he pulls out of the package is always exactly what he wants.
January 6th was Epiphany with a capital “E.” Epiphany, the twelfth day of Christmas, recognizes and celebrates God being revealed in human form in the person of Jesus Christ. Western Christian tradition celebrates that moment when the Wise Men, the Magi, visited baby Jesus. It is believed the Magi were from that part of the world we now call Iran so the Magi weren’t Jews but were Gentiles. For Christians, Epiphany celebrates the revelation of God to the Gentile world. That time in our own religious history when we could look up with big eyes and a smile realizing, “God is for us, too!”
I wonder what it was like for the Wise Men. They followed the star to baby Jesus, and when they saw him the just knew they were looking at God. Don’t you wish you could be given a sign, like a star to follow, and at the end of your journey you would know that you are seeing God? Alas, I think it is safe to say that such an experience in this lifetime, such an Epiphany, is unlikely for most of us.
Or is it? Yesterday when I was giving a tour of the Church Health Center, I mentioned a verse we use quite often from 1 Corinthians 6:19: Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?
God is in each of us. God is in each patient, each nurse, each social worker, each accountant. If I want to experience Epiphany like the Magi, I simply need to look at the patient sitting in front of me…or at the person walking on the treadmill… or the doctor listening to a heartbeat or simply at the person staring back at me in the mirror. I can see God, I can experience Epiphany, whenever I want. And I believe you can, too. Like Blake, whenever we open the next Happy Meal or the next door to see another patient, let it be an epiphany to each of us of God’s love and work in this world.
Gracious God, give us vision to see you in each person who comes near us. AMEN.