There’s a great cartoon that I first came across several years ago, about the arrival of the Magi. Instead of the traditional three kings atop camels, the picture is of three women, one holding diapers, one a casserole, and the last one a box of formula. The caption reads, “After the three Wise Men left, the three Wise Women arrived.”
This Friday we’ll celebrate the Epiphany of our Lord with a festive Eucharist at 7:00 p.m. I hope you’ll join us. It’s the culmination of the Christmas Season and all the joy that comes from the celebration of the Word being made flesh and living among us. The gospel story we hear on Epiphany is, of course, the story of the magi, those holy stargazers from the East, who brought strange, extravagant gifts for the baby. It’s a fantastic story, full of twists and poignancy, but like all the stories about the life of Jesus, it’s not just about “them,” it’s also about us. It’s a story that invites us to consider how we respond to God’s existence in the world. The magi brought gifts, and we must ask ourselves how we offer gifts to Christ today. And not just any gifts, but extravagant gifts, gifts that may even seem outrageous and nonsensical because of their significance. Gifts fitting for the King of kings and Lord of lords. Because even though Christmas may be coming to a close, in truth the act of giving gifts is really just beginning. Every day we are invited to give ourselves away for the sake of the love of God.
At the end of the service we’ll process outside and burn a huge pile of the Christmas greenery. Given the weather forecast, a bonfire will feel pretty nice! But this fire is about more than warmth, it’s about radiance and hope. In the darkened night, the fire will surge and flicker and shine brightly, reminding us that the Light of Christ shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. Christmas may already feel over and done, but the birthday boy lives on. He is alive, and he surges and flickers and shines brightly, too, and there is nothing that may come in 2017 that he cannot overcome. He is Lord, and with his life to guide us, his love in our hearts, and his Spirit to move us, we need not be afraid of anything that may come.