a sermon on Isaiah 60:1-6 and Matthew 2:1-12
The light of Christmas is beginning to fade all around us. The discounts on Christmas decor are now up to 75 or 90 percent, if the stores haven’t given up on selling it altogether, and the unstoppable shift to Valentine’s Day has already begun. Tomorrow begins the inevitable return to the usual routine after two consecutive weeks of holidays for many people. Even the poinsettias here at the front of the sanctuary are wilting as we move beyond December 25.
But on this day when we celebrate Epiphany, the coming of the wise men as recounted in the gospel according to Matthew, the church calendar insists that we look at the bright star of Christ once more before we step away from it for another year. “Arise, shine, for your light has come!” the prophet declares. Isaiah almost certainly had another light in mind when he first wrote these words, but they nonetheless point beyond his immediate hope of new light in the returning exiles to the wondrous new light that broke into the world in Jesus Christ. And when the light comes, as it does in the appearance of a star in our gospel reading, it shines far beyond the places that we might expect, inviting even wise men from the East to respond with joy and hope to shine this light into the whole world.
In the light of this star, in the light of this season, we are called to bear forth this light into our world. This world is so weary, so much in need of new light. Violence strikes near and far, paralyzing us with fear. Hatred rises up from those who look like us and those who do not look like us, setting us against one another all the more. Uncertainty and fear hold us hostage, keeping us from following the light into new places and ways of living in hope. Our world needs the light of Christ, and we are called to let it shine in and through us each and every day.
There are so many ways that we can do this that it can sometimes be overwhelming! The darkness can be so great that we may have no idea where to begin shining our light. The light can shine from us in so many different ways that we may not know where we can offer our light best. And the gift of this light may overwhelm us, leaving us blinded and uncertain about how we can let it shine. So as we go out from the celebration of light to shine God’s light from our lives into the world, we may need a little help to sort out how we might shine in our world.
Toward that end, I offer you this star word to carry with you today.
This word speaks to one of the many ways that we can shine God’s light into our world. Think about how God is calling you to shine the light of this word into the world this year. If after a minute or two you just can’t see how you can make that word shine with God’s light in your life, then refresh this page and you will get another.
Friends, our light has come, and the glory of God has risen upon us, so may we shine God’s light into our weary world each and every day until all things are made new in the wondrous light of Jesus Christ our Lord. Thanks be to God! Amen.