Scripture text: Matthew 2:1-2 ďAfter Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ďWhere is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."
Epiphany is a holy day in the Christian church that marks the end of the twelve days of Christmas and the beginning of the Epiphany season. We remember the visit of the magi to Bethlehem, signifying the nations coming to Christ. Drawn by the light of the star, the gentile visitors worship the Christ. Epiphany has been called the Christmas of the Gentiles.
Jesus was born a Jew, but it didnít take very long to see he came to be the savior not only of the Jews but of all the nations. These wise men came from the east to find their king. Their learning gave them insight into their need for a savior. They found their king under the guiding star of Bethlehem in a stable among the animals.
We are all led to Christ by the star of truth. We know that there is more to life than daily work and the reward of pleasure. By the light of the Holy Scriptures God has led you by the star of his truth to find Christ in a lowly place that many today would pass by. Here in the Christian Church you have come to find the face of God.
Many people pass by the Christian Church today. Some think religion is a pacifier. Others think it is only a place of meditation and self assurance. Still some think it is a racket for making money and dismiss the Christian faith.
Christianity is none of this. It is the worship of Jesus Christ as God and king. It is in the doctrine and preaching that Christ Jesus lives and breathes among us today. He reveals himself to us. He is full of power and mystery. He fills us with his holiness.
You catechumens who have been led for the past several months in study of the word of God, you have come to see the face of Christ. The word has led you here, some of you to be baptized in Christís name. Now you belong to Him.
As the wise men brought presents, we come and bow before the Lord this evening. He washes us clean through baptism so that we can come into the holiness of his being.
What gifts do we bring? Gold, frankincense and myrrh were most costly in their day. We bring the most expensive gift there is--ourselves. We are expensive because of what it took to purchase us back from death. It took the very life of this Christ Child, nailed to a cross thirty three years later. Our lives are the only things worthy to be given to such a great king as Jesus.
The Bible instruct us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices. Now you belong to Him.
It will be easy to go from here and drift away from God. You catechumens will be tempted very much in the next months. You will be tempted to stay home from church, to give up your study of Godís word. You will be tempted to go back to the way you used to think about God before you came here to Bethlehem.
God asks you to remember who you now belong to.
The wise men, after seeing Jesus, did not go back to visit Herod. He wanted to kill the infant king. So the magi went home by another route without going back to Jerusalem.
Donít you go back to Herod either. Donít return to the old way of living now that you have come to Christ. You no longer call all the shots for yourself. You belong to Jesus. You can trust him with your life because he is a caring shepherd who loves you. Listen to his voice in the Scriptures and he will guide you always.
That goes for all Christians. We belong to Jesus. We have come to worship our God and king. He has cleansed us to be in his presence. We ask him to keep us close to him from now on. Amen.
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