Joy for Gentiles
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Church has spent these past twelve days celebrating the Nativity of Our Lord. For some, the fervor of that celebration has remained high. For some, it has waned. And for many, even among us, Christmas ended the moment the gifts were opened and the meal was done, and all that remains is a weary resignation, relief that it’s over. But the celebration of Epiphany is an opportunity to rekindle our joy, to renew our worship of our Savior, Jesus Christ. The little Babe born in Bethlehem is not simply the Messiah for the Jews; as the angels shared, the Savior would be for “all people.”
That evidence is given in the Magi who saw the star in the East, who followed the guiding of that Star, who arrived in Bethlehem so that they could worship Christ as King. The arrival of these Magi shows us that this promised Messiah is born to rescue and deliver and restore all men to communion in God. The star leads them for our sake, so that we might see that the promise to the Jews now extends to all peoples. We are now able to be numbered as children of the Father.
So let us celebrate today with great and holy joy. Today we see that we too are children of the promise, descendants of Abraham by the power of the Spirit. Now we also, standing alongside the Magi, get to adore the Christ Child, not simply as the Creator of the universe, but also as the Savior of all those who pin their hopes to Him. What Isaiah says has come true: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. You have multiplied the nation and increased its joy; they rejoice before You.
This is the day that Abraham saw, and rejoiced to see, for in the Spirit, Abraham saw that his children would be children both of blood and of faith. Like his physical descendants, these foreign children would be blessed by his ultimate Son, Jesus. King David also saw rejoiced to see this day; he prophesied, “All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name.” And in the Magi, David’s prophecy is fulfilled; the Lord’s Word is proven to be true and dependable.
So let us join King David in singing to the Lord, “For He has done marvelous things; the LORD has made known His salvation; His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations. He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.”
So let us be full of joy and rejoicing today. Let us imitate these steadfast and righteous Magi. Truly they are Wise Men, since they seek the Christ, the power and wisdom of God. And let us imitate their humility and faith. For in humility they prostrated themselves before the Holy Child; and in faith, they offered back to Him what He had first given them, trusting that He would receive their sacrifices and bless them. And finally, let us imitate their obedience and perseverance. For no matter what happened along the way, no matter how many hurts they suffered or how many barriers they encountered, no matter how much the devil tried to deceive them in wicked King Herod, these Magi let nothing stand in the way of worshiping their Lord and King.
Come and kneel before Him in joy. Though we are gentiles by flesh, in Christ we have become children of Abraham and, more importantly, children of the heavenly Father in Holy Baptism. He has made Himself known to us in His Word. He reveals Himself to us in flesh, just as He did to those wise men so long ago, though hidden now in bread and wine. Come and be refreshed by your Lord. Come and have your joy renewed. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.