Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; January 3, 2015; Epiphany Sunday

Today’s Scriptures: Matthew 2:1-12

You can read these Scriptures at this link: NIV and CEV

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Today is Epiphany Sunday.

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Inside the church we use words that most people outside the church do not understand or cannot relate to. And if we are honest, many of us do not know what certain “church-y” words actually mean.

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We have our own “inside-these-walls” language that I call “Churchese.” I think of “Churchese” similar to the way Star Trek fans and aficionados think of Klingon[1]. The Klingon Dictionary and Grammar Guide is available from Amazon for $12.99. There are Klingon Christmas Cards and even Klingon Wedding Ceremonies complete with Klingon invitations and menus. Such literary and culturally influential works as Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tse, and The Epic of Gilgamesh were translated to Klingon. There is a Klingon opera specifically written for the language. Performances of Dickens’ Christmas Carol in Klingon delighted sold-out audiences in four major cities: St. Paul, MN, Chicago, IL, Washington, DC and Cincinnati, OH[2]. Some Star Trek fans know, love and appreciate Klingon and use it in everyday life to communicate with each other when they do not want muggles to understand them, while everyone else thinks that these men and women are nuts.

Just like that, inside the church we know, love and appreciate “Churchese,” while few outside the church know, understand or care about it.

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The word “Epiphany” is definitely one of those “Churchese” words. That is why I want to say a few words about what Epiphany is.

In English “epiphany” describes a moment in which a person suddenly sees or understands something in a new way, it is a moment when the proverbial light-bulb goes on, it is the time when we realize the meaning behind the facts and truths. Who among us has not had such a moment of realization at least once in their lives?

In “Churchese,” the word Epiphany is used to describe a Christian festival held on January 6 (12 days after Christmas) in honor of the coming of the Wise Men to visit with the family of Jesus while he was just a toddler. That story is found in the Gospel of Matthew 2:1-12. The Sunday that is closest to January 6 is referred to as “Epiphany Sunday.”

That brings me to today’s reading. We hear the story of the Magi and a sermon about the Magi every year, and that makes it difficult for any pastor to say anything new or even interesting about these gift-bearing strangers from the East. That being understood, the story contains important insights about God.

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1) The Magi were foreigners and outsiders. The Magi were not even believers in God; they were probably Zoroastrian priests from the territories of today’s Iran or Azerbaijan. God’s revelation was given to outsiders, not to the inhabitants of the Holy Land and not to the religious elite. God’s revelation was given to those that were thought to be outside God’s chosen. Revelation came in ways that defied the religious and cultural norms of the time; outsiders were the bearers of the Good News.

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2) The Magi were guided by a star, a tiny speck of light that no one else paid any attention to. God speaks through the non-human as well as human world. The whole Creation and everything in it can reveal God’s presence. We can catch glimpses of the Holy through science, through interaction with others, as well as through scriptures when we have the courage to look.

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3) God communicated with the Magi through dreams. That means that sometimes God communicates with us through the subconscious.

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4) Can you imagine the Magi’s disappointment or surprise when they saw the Holy Family? They expected to find Jesus in the palace, and that is where they went at first. Then they learned something about God (Matthew 2:6 – the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem), and they traveled the road that they did not expect to travel. And then they came to a house of a peasant family. Even though they found a child and a family that did not have the trappings of a future king, they still gave their gifts to the Holy Family because they trusted what they had learned on their journey. That is why the day that commemorates that event is called the Epiphany.

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5) After visiting the Holy Family, the Magi “left for their own country by another road.” When we encounter the Holy, we are transformed and changed. How many of us are not in the place we imagined we would be just a year ago? Have you ever asked yourself, how did I get here? All of us are dealing with changes in our families, economic realities, changes in health, and relationships. All of us must travel unexpected paths. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). Just like the Magi, we find and experience God not where we expected to, but on our lives’ journeys.

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The story that we heard today teaches us that God comes to all of us disguised as ordinary life. All of us experience epiphanies every day and find God in every season of life and in all sorts of unfamiliar persons and places.

{Receiving New Member}

{Celebrating the Sacrament of the Holy Communion}


[1] For more info about Klingon visit this site: http://www.kli.org/

[2] For more info visit http://www.kli.org/about-klingon/klingon-history/ & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Klingon_Christmas_Carol

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