Love Revealed - Reflections 1-3-19

Texts for the Day of Epiphany
January 6, 2019

Isaiah 60:1-6
Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14
Ephesians 3:1-12

Matthew 2:1-12


The word means “appearing”, “revealing” or “making visible”; a lot of Epiphany hymns use the word “manifested” as a synonym.  What is manifested or visible? God’s love through the flesh of Jesus. 

The whole season of Epiphany shows different ways that God is revealed through the acts and words of Jesus. The actual day of Epiphany, which we celebrate this Sunday, notes the arrival of foreigners in Judea who seek the newly born king of the Jews.

This week’s Gospel reading tells the story that precedes and in fact explains the slaughter of the innocents that we looked at last week. These foreigners (we are only told they are from “the east”) stop by Jerusalem to ask Herod the Great, the king, where the new king has been born. They saw his star rise and have followed it to Judea. They wished to kneel before him in worship (and deliver gifts).  

That scenario offers plenty of reasons for a powerful and paranoid leader to release a violent response. Foreigner got a sign and he didn’t? Who on his staff missed that news? A new KING is born? And just who is it who says this child is the king?

In the Isaiah text, the community of Israel is reminded that they are called to be a light to the nations. God’s love was revealed through the steadfast compassion and endless mercy God gave to Israel for the purpose of becoming a beacon for others to see - a light to the nations. This light revealed that God’s plan of restoration was for all.

The author of Ephesians points to a multicultural community that reveals God’s plan was for all people – aka Gentiles – to receive the “boundless riches of Christ”. God’s love is revealed through the rich variety of people with “access” to it. As in no distinctions.

So, back to the Gospel: the question that lies under the story is “How did these people from afar, aka foreigners, be they wise ones, kings, astrologers, or Zoroastrian priests, even get into this story?”

At best, there’s judgement and divisiveness with a dash of self-righteousness in that question. At worst there’s anger, hatred, and a simmering violence behind that question. 

The answer to that question is that God never quite acts according to plan, well, at least never acts according to our plan. God’s love may be manifested where we least expect it  or even want it to be. God mysteriously and graciously breaks into our world where God wills. That is both humbling and freeing. 

How is God’s love revealed in your life? 

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Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245