5 January 2014
Text: Matt 2:1-12 (Isa 60:1-6, Eph 3:1-12)
In the name of + Jesus. Amen.
Light is a theme woven throughout Holy Scripture. Light is mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis near the front of the chapter, and light is mentioned in the last chapter of Revelation near the end of the chapter. Light was the first thing God created on the first day, and He created it by means of His Word, through which He created all things. “And God said, ‘Let there be light, and there was light.’”
Light is both matter and energy, both a wave and a particle. Light is foundational to the universe, and its speed is a numerical formulaic constant in cosmological calculations.
There is also a common human intuition about light. We are disoriented by darkness. Our senses don’t quite work right when deprived of light. Sin and violence are often lurking about in the absence of light. Darkness is unnatural to us as God’s creatures.
Since the fall in Eden, we grope about in a kind of spiritual darkness caused by sin, a result of our lack of communion with God, a manifestation of the gloom of death itself. The entire narrative of the Bible is about this darkness, and more importantly, about how this darkness is overcome by the light, this great light promised by the prophets and manifested to the world with the birth of Jesus Christ.
“Jesus Christ is the light of the world, the light no darkness can overcome!”
The universal darkness that enveloped the world was to be forever shattered by this great and pure light.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come,” prophesies Isaiah, “and the glory of the Lord is upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and His glory will be seen upon you. And the nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”
Into this dark and lost world came a guiding light. The nations were led to Him by the light of a star. And this light, this child of hope, this Christ and Savior, is the “light of life,” His light shines upon the world with a radiance never before seen.
We celebrate the festival of the Epiphany today, a word that means a manifestation, or a showing. And in Christ, the love of God is made manifest, as the bright light of God’s incarnation in the flesh gives light to all mankind, and illuminates us out of sin, away from death, and beyond the grasp of the devil. And even as moths are drawn to the flame, the peoples of the world, the Gentiles, those lost in sin and wrapped in the darkness of death, have seen this light manifested by a star, and by the testimony of the prophets.
They were drawn to Him. “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”
The light, the true light, “God of God, light of light, very God of very God”, has broken into our gloomy world as the Morning Star of our salvation. This is what drew the “wise men from the east” to Bethlehem, where the star and the prophets led them to the Word Made Flesh, the Word by which, and by whom, light came into being on that first day, and through whom the world is enlightened by the Gospel, which brings to “light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things.”
This light is indeed for all the earth, for all men, for those living in every corner of the planet, people of every tribe and tongue, and this great light beams His grace and mercy upon us.
Dear friends, we have been freed, liberated from darkness and the shadow of death. We have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit, who has drawn us to the light of Christ, who dispels our darkness and whose blood has set us free. This Christ manifested Himself to Peter, James, and John as blazing white light on the day of transfiguration, and it is Christ whose rule among us means we “will need no light or lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be [our] light.”
And it is this light preached by the apostles and proclaimed by their successors that brings “to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages.” Christ, the light of the world, is no longer hidden. He shines forth brightly among all nations, beaming from His Word and gleaming in the Church’s sacraments, “so that through the Church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, our days of the darkness of sin are over. Christ has come into our dark world shining brightly not simply to expose our sins and illuminate our failures, but to chase away the shadows where Satan lurks, to dispel the darkness of our sinful flesh, and to enlighten our souls to eternal life through the forgiveness of sins.
Dear friends, we live in the light because we live in the hope that shines in us and upon us, through Him who was manifested by a star, who was worshiped by the magi, and whose light in this dark world is unable to be extinguished by anyone or anything.
Let us rejoice in this light! Let this Epiphany shine with us day in and day out, not only in this season, not only over the course of this year, but for the entire duration of our lifetimes, and even unto eternity! Amen.
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