Today is the end of Christmastide and the beginning of Epiphany. The twelve days of Christmas are over and now we enter the season of Epiphany. This is the day that we celebrate the visit of the Magi bringing gifts of Frankincense, Myrrh, and Gold to the baby Jesus. Where the mystery of Christ is first revealed to the gentiles. We celebrate the coming of Jesus as our Lord and savior and give thanks that He came to save all of humanity, Jew, and Gentile alike. Like the Christmas season the season of Epiphany is longer than just a single day. As a matter of fact, because we are Methodists, we celebrate Epiphanytide until the beginning of lent which is approximately nine weeks and in the coming weeks we will celebrate the baptism of the Lord all the way through to the transfiguration on the mount where the glory of heaven is revealed on earth and the divinity of Christ as the Son of God is made plain by the Father. and behold, a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him!” But generally speaking this day is given over to the magi and how they represent the gentiles. But I want you to think about exactly who the magi are you have three guys from different cultures, travelling across many different lands also with different cultures, to worship “ The King of the Jews” and bring gifts to a baby they have never seen, in a land they had never been to, because of a vision they had while following a star in the sky. That is Faith. That is God’s plan working in fine detail. Amen.
You see I think that the wise men had it wrong. They were bringing gifts, to honor Jesus but the Lord came as a servant to the world. God sent Jesus to the world as a gift, The Gift. As a matter of fact, the greatest gift that God could give the world was the gift of his only begotten son. And I say it’s a gift because Jesus not only came as a gift from God, but he brought us a gift. Jesus brought us the gift of the word, the good news, the Son taught us the wisdom of the father through the scriptures. And the gift of the Word is its own gift for it brings Salvation and redemption. The Word brings the cleansing flood and the forgiveness that only the peace of God’s grace can provide. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. This one was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and apart from him not one thing came into being that has come into being. In him was life, and the life was the light of humanity. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. The true light, who gives light to every person, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him, and the world did not recognize him. He came to his own things, and his own people did not receive him. But as many as received him—to those who believe in his name—he gave to them authority to become children of God, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of a husband, but of God. And the Word became flesh and took up residence among us, and we saw his glory, glory as of the one and only from the Father, full of grace and truth. For from his fullness we have all received, and grace after grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came about through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the one and only, God, the one who is in the bosom of the Father—that one has made him known. Jesus is a gift to the world, to us, He is not set aside, just to be the Messiah for the people of Israel, but for all the people of the world and that is the true mystery of Christ. It is for that reason Paul suffers gladly as a prisoner for Jesus, for us. And I say for us because without Paul the gospel would never have been made known to the gentiles. The savior of the world would have been withheld from all but the Jewish people. Paul goes on to say how In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. The gift of the word of the gospel is given to us by Jesus and assures us that we to have a share in the promise of Christ. That even though we are not god’s chosen people, we are people chosen by God to share in the gifts and inheritance as his children. This same gift of god’s grace that is given to all of us, the power of god’s grace is his gift to us. And like Paul although he was the very least of all the saints it was that grace that gift from God, that gave him the strength to bring to us the news of the boundless riches of Christ. It is Paul that made everyone see the mystery that was hidden for ages in God who created all things; yet it is through the church that the wisdom of God in its rich variety is made known to the rulers and authorities in heavenly places. There is truly no mystery about the gift that is Jesus, there is no mystery about the gift that is the word. The mystery is that God loves us enough to send his only son to die for us, the true mystery is why we reject that love and grace that is extended to us even as we are adding to His burden, and still, He loves us and wants us and forgives us. That is the real Mystery. This is in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him. I pray therefore that you may not lose heart over my sufferings for you; they are your glory. And it is Christs gift to Paul, to us as well. As you leave today, I would like you to ask yourself one question. What will you do, with your gift?