Epiphany. “The manifestation of Christ to the peoples of the earth.”

Magi, star, seeking, journeying, paying attention, gifts, foreigners, together, Christ child

            Jesus was born in a small community, but he came for the whole world. He was born a male, but came for men and women. He was born in a specific ethnicity, but came for those of all ethnicities. When the magi came to Jesus, they were the first people who were not locals to come and experience the presence of Christ. They were the foreigners coming in, seeking, journeying.

            The arrival of the magi is the first instance of “making a bigger table”. They were different, they had come from afar, but they were welcomed. We, too, are called to make our table bigger. Who do we welcome into our lives? Who are we willing to accept as a loved by God? Do we try to keep people out or do we try to bring them in, welcoming them to the table of our lives?

            The magi traveled for a long time, following the star that appeared to guide them. We do not know for how long they traveled, but they arrived well after the birth of Jesus. They were on a journey of discovery, seeking a king. And what did they find? They found a child of a young woman and a carpenter. They found a pretty normal family, except, of course, that the child was the Son of God. When they arrived, they offered gifts to the child and his family; gifts fitting for a king.

            We are all on journeys, seeking Jesus, and we all have gifts to give. The magi went on a physical journey, and maybe we will too, but maybe our journey is the journey of our faith and the journey our life takes us on. We do not get a star to follow, but we do get a living savior, Jesus Christ. And where do we find Jesus? We find him in the world around us, in the people we meet. We find Jesus where there is work to be done for equality and peace. We find him where there is injustice. We find Jesus among the least of these… the person experiencing hunger or homelessness, the refugee, the immigrant, the stranger, those who are different from us, and those who appear the same as us. You see, we do not know where or when we will encounter Jesus. We have to continue to seek and serve those whom he would seek and serve. The gifts we have to give are not gold, frankincense, or myrrh, but gifts we have to give of our selves. Maybe yours is organization, or fixing things, or finances, or working with children, or planning, or your bubbly personality or, or, or. If we think we do not have gifts to offer, we are mistaken. We are all created with the ability to give back to God from all we have been blessed with.

            How do we seek Jesus? How can we, in this new year, make Jesus and his teachings, more central in our lives? One way is to follow Presiding Bishop Curry’s Way of Love. In this model, we are asked to make changes to the way we live our lives. We are asked to follow seven practices, which can all be found on episcopalchurch.org

Turn: pause, listen, and choose to follow Jesus

Learn: reflect on scripture, especially Jesus’ life and teaching

Pray: dwell intentionally with God

Worship: gather in community to thank, praise, and dwell with God

Bless: share faith and unselfishly give and serve

Go: cross boundaries, listen deeply, and live like Jesus

Rest: receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration

            The Way of Love is not intended to be stressful, it is intended to liberate you on your journey to encounter Jesus. It is intended to give you the basic resources to incorporate him into your daily life and living. It might even help you to identify the gifts that you can offer to Jesus and the world out of the abundance of your life.

            Seeking and journeying. We can see the seeking and journeying as something to be fearful of or stressed out about, or we can see it as an adventure; an adventure that has the power to change our lives and the world. In this new year, I ask you to consider joining me in embracing the adventure that is our journey of faith, and see where it will take us.