Sermons 2008

We Three Kings, The Epiphany, 6 January 2008, Matthew 2:1-12

Home | Light and Love, Christmas 1B , 28 December 2008, John 1:1-18 | The light and the darkness, Christmas Day, 25 December 2008, John 1:1-14 | What would you see? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2008, Luke 2:1-20 | What did you say? Advent 3B, 14 December 2008, John 1:6-8. 19-28 | A refining fire, Advent 2B, 7 Dec 2008, Mark 1:1-8 | Alert, alert! Advent 1B, 30 November 2008, Mark 13:24-37 | Where will we stand: sheep or goats? Proper 29A 2008, 23 November 2008, Matthew 25: 31-46 | The talents to...? Proper 28A, 16 November 2008, Matthew 25:14-30 | Choose this day, Proper 27A, 9 November 2008, Joshua 24:14-25; Matthew 25:1-13 | All Saints A, 2 November 2008, Matthew 5:1-12; 23:1-12 | Holy or not? Proper 25A, 26 October 2008, Matthew 22:34-46 | Things: God's or Caesar's? Proper 24A, 19 October 2008, Matthew 22:15-22 | The wedding and the allegory, Proper 23A, 12 October 2008, Matthew 22:1-14 | The vineyard and the rock, Proper 22A. 5 October 2008, Matthew 21:33-46 | Deference and disobedience, Proper 21A, 28 September 2008, Exodus 17:1-7; Matthew 21:23-32 | Be content, Proper 20A , 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16 | Only one true church? Proper 18A, 7 September 1008, Matthew 18:15-20 | Be content! Proper 20A, 21 September 2008, Matthew 22:1-16 | Be content! Proper 20A, 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16 | Holy Name and Holy Ground, Proper 17A, Exodus 3:1-15; Matthew 16:21-28 | What's in a name? Proper 16A, 24 August 2008, Matthew 16:13-20 | Dogs? Proper 15A, 17 August 2008, Matthew 15:10-28 | Time to get out of the boat, Proper 14A, 10 August 2008, Matthew 14:22-33 | Who, me? Proper 13A, 3 August 2008, Matthew 14:13-21 | LIKE what? Proper 12A, 27 July 2008, Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 | Good seed, bad seed, Proper 11A , 20 July 2008, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 | Watch the Farmer, Proper 10A, 13 July 2009, Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 | Easy Yoke? Proper 9A 2008, 6 July 2008, Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 | Baptism of David William and Anne Tyler, Proper 8A, 29 June 2008 | The Twelve or the Dirty Dozen? Proper 6A, 15 June 2008, Matthew 9:35-10:15 | Jesus likes sinners?, Proper 5A, 8 June 2008, Matthew 9:9-13 | Lawlessness or not? Pentecost 3A, Proper 4A, 1 June 2008, Matthew 7:21-29 | What do you mean, if? Easter 6A, 27 April 2008, John 14:15-21 | Comforting words and St Thomas, Easter 5A, 20 April 2008, John 14:1-14 | Ordinary good shepherds, Easter 4A 2008, 13 April 2008, John 10:1-10 | Light for clarity, Easter 3A, 6 April 2008, Luke 24:13-35 | "Blessed are those who....", Easter 2A, 30 March 2008, John 20:19-31 | Hallelujah! He's alive! Easter Sunday A, 23 March 2008, John 20:1-18 | He had it all, Palm Sunday A, 16 March 2008, Matthew 26:14-27:54 | Lazarus: Waiting for Jesus, Lent 5A, 9 March 2008, John 11:1-45 | Miracles Physical and Spiritual, Lent 4A, 2 March 2008, John 9:1-41 | Living Water, Lent 3A, 24 February 2008, John 4:5-42 | God's unselfish love, Lent 2A, 17 February 2008, John 3:1-17 | Temptation, Lent 1A, 10 February 2008 | Ash Wednesday, 6 February 2008, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | They heard the Lord call, Epiphany 3A, 20 Jan 2008, Matthew 4:12-23 | Come and See! Epiphany 2A, 20 January 2008, John 1: 29-42 | Remember Your Baptism? Epiphany 1A, 13 January 2008, Matthew 3:13-17 | We Three Kings, The Epiphany, 6 January 2008, Matthew 2:1-12

Epiphany A 2007 Matthew 2:1-12

Some commentary and some observations on the Epiphany: From the earliest days of the Church there were many legends told about the birth of Jesus. One is a beautiful old legend about the star in the East: When the star had finished its task of guiding the Magi to the baby, it fell from the sky into the city well of Bethlehem. According to other legends, those whose hearts are pure can see it.

Other legends concern the wise men from the east. For many centuries in the east, they believed that there were 12 Magi who made the journey. Nowadays we are agreed on three, but only because there were three gifts given. Another tradition tells us the names of the three: Melchior gave the gold. Balthasar gave the myrrh. Casper gave the frankincense. Other legends say that the three then journeyed as far as Spain, spreading the good news about what they had seen. (1)

The trouble, of course, is that the best evidence we have about the Wise Men is in this brief description given us by Saint Matthew. There isn’t any more. Just legends. But what we learn from these Gentile Wise Men is important. They were the messengers of the birth of Jesus the Messiah to the ruling class in Jerusalem, specifically King Herod.

After all, the shepherds had simply gone back to their sheep. This particular group of shepherds disappears from the Gospels – they aren’t heard of again. One wonders sometimes what happened to them after they had seen the angels singing in the sky and the stars dancing across the heavens. They seem not to have told anyone else anything about what they had seen and heard.

Mary and Joseph pretty much kept quiet about the whole thing. Mary did a lot of pondering in her heart but she certainly didn’t rush around announcing who her son really was. After all, who would have believed this maybe twelve year old mother that her son was God incarnate – can’t you just hear the gossip around the village well in Nazareth about how wacky Mary had become. And Joseph – Joseph has no speaking part in the gospels anywhere. Joseph become the forgotten man, the silent one who simply does what he has been told to do.

The only beings running about making announcements and giving orders were the angels – they certainly were busy during this whole time of the infancy narratives: They frighten poor Mary out of her wits announcing that she was pregnant. They browbeat Joseph into marrying Mary anyhow. They send shepherds running to the manger in Bethlehem as the very first humans to visit the holy family. Shepherds of all people – down at the lowest rungs of society. No wonder the shepherds were afraid to say anything.

It was the Gentile Wise Men who first publicly announced the Good News. Hence Epiphany – more correctly, theophany: the Manifestation, the Revelation of God to the world in the Christ Child. It was the first of many connections between Jesus Christ and the non-Jewish world: His healing of the Roman Centurion’s servant, the preaching trip through the Greek Decapolis, his retreat to Tyre and Sidon and healing the daughter of the Syro-Phoenician woman, and Peter’s Confession in Caesaria-Philippi, among others.

The trouble was, they announced it to the wrong person and before they had seen the Christ Child and his parents. And so the Wise Men, however many or few there were, travel on to Bethlehem, really an obscure unimportant even insignificant little town, certainly to the naked eye. Can you imagine what they thought when the arrived. They came looking for a new born king in a palace, and they found what was, to all intents and purposes, the peasant child of peasant parents, living in a manure piled stable of all things. A stable. What sort of king indeed. No wonder they didn’t go back to glorious Jerusalem and tell King Herod of their foolishness in making this long trip and not finding what they really were looking for. And they may well have felt ashamed to return to their homes.

How does the Epiphany work for us in the 21st Century, this revelation of God in Jesus Christ?

In the 21st century since the first Epiphany, the only way people will see Jesus is in us. They will see how Christian we are in the way we treat each other and them. They will see that we are not ashamed to follow the Crucified One. They will see the joy we have in carrying on his work.


1. “The True Story of the Magi”, in John B. Jamison, TIME'S UP!, C.S.S. Publishing Company, 1992, 1-55673-423-9, at