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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sermon 01062013 Epiphany

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

Let us pray!  Gracious God, today we celebrate the coming of the Wise Men.  With their entrance on the twelfth day of Christmas their gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh to Mary and Joseph were the fulfillment of the prophecy of the gifts by the wise men to the Messiah through Isaiah.  May Jesus Christ Who comes in the flesh to and for each of us enable us to see not the gifts, but how Jesus Christ fulfilling the prophecy of the promises of God not only fulfills God’s Word, but especially the plan of salvation.  For God’s plan is clear to save us and Jesus birth begins the fulfillment of the plan of salvation for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Today is Epiphany, a Feast Day of the Church Year that celebrates the wise men visiting the Christ Child and the “First Family”.  Historically it is the culmination of the Christmas season and the celebration of the manifestation of Jesus Christ to the world.  In some cultures this is a day where the children receive one last Christmas gift in their stockings.  Hence, the tradition of keeping up the Christmas tree and decorations, including stockings to receive that one last gift as if it were from the wise men coming from the East.  This is certainly unlike our current culture which removes every piece of tinsel the day after Christmas and fails to remember the real reason for the season and the complete fullness of the Holidays.

From our Old Testament lesson this morning, we hear clearly Isaiah prophesying of the coming of the long expected Messiah foretold of long ago.  Isaiah is clear, “Arise, shine; for your light has come”.  This world full of “darkness will cover the earth” and the sin that surrounds us daily from Adam and Eve through the journey into slavery in Egypt, being led by God’s chosen to freedom and now the prophecy of the Messiah is a new found freedom from bondage, and slavery of the heart soul and spirit even for us today.
It is clear from Isaiah that the prophecy of the Messiah is not the idle ramblings of a prophet that is out of touch with the world or out of touch with God.  For Isaiah says, “Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising”.  The world will see this ‘brightness’, they will ‘come’, they will in essence be changed by the ‘light’ that ‘has risen’.  This is the potential and abject reality of the coming Messiah.  This is the fulfillment of God’s promises through Isaiah the prophet to and for each of us today.

But why should promises of a prophet that lived 2700 years ago impact us today?  We just celebrated the New Year, we ended the Mayan Calendar, we avoided the Fiscal Cliff, why should the prophecy and promise of a Messiah born in the midst of darkness hold weight upon us?  Why should we here at Emmanuel in Goodland, KS have our lives altered or impacted by this prophet today on Epiphany 2013?

The reason is simple, but yet so profound.  This prophecy was not only written with only certain people in mind.  This prophecy from God was written for all people of all time and all place.  God in the wisdom beyond our knowledge and understanding through the prophet Isaiah is speaking to us today to remind us of the great mystery of the manifestation of Jesus Christ and the fulfillment we celebrated this past Christmas in the lowly manger and which today we remember with the coming of the three wise men.

Isaiah knows what our reaction should be, he says, “And your heart will thrill and rejoice”.  This is in reaction to the ‘light coming’, Jesus Christ being born in a manger and coming to begin the fulfillment of the plan of salvation.  Jesus Christ coming and laying in a manger because there was no room in the inn begins the road to Golgotha and His sacrifice on the Cross for you and for me.  For the promise being fulfilled in the birth of the Savior of the nations is clearly confirmed by the appearance of the three wise men and their gifts that Isaiah foretells.

For as Isaiah says, “They will bring gold and frankincense, and will bear good news of the praises of the Lord.”  Their gifts will enable Joseph and Mary to survive their pilgrimage to Egypt and return after the death of Herod, but more so the ‘good news’ that the wise men reveal fulfills yet again the prophecy of God through Isaiah for us today.  We not only receive the ‘good news of great joy’ we also celebrate the birth of the Messiah, the fulfillment of God’s prophecy in the Old Testament and especially the promise of God revealed with Jesus birth in the manger and surrounded by the three wise men.  For God clearly fulfills this promise of Jesus Christ entrance into the world for all of mankind around the altar and table of our Lord this morning.  We receive Jesus Christ precious Body and Blood this morning for eternal life, the forgiveness of our sins, eternal life and salvation for all of mankind, but especially for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this Epiphany morning.  AMEN.

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