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Monday, January 9, 2017

01082017 Epiphany Observed - We are called to preach the unfathomable riches of Christ!

JANUARY 8, 2017
We are called to preach the unfathomable riches of Christ!
One of the best and most enduring traditions that we have here at Emmanuel is our placing the Nativity out on our South lawn.  We like the Catholics across the street every year show the importance for our community of our celebration of the Nativity of the Savior of the World.  I remember one year the dedication that was shown by one of the men of the church in order to insure the placement of the Nativity he spent 20-30 minutes with the snow blower making a place for our nativity to rest.
So important is our tradition and this ministry that it boils down to a simple reason.  We not only acknowledge the gifts given to give God the greatest glory from our past we do this by pointing to the riches found in Jesus Christ in the manger.  Today as we celebrate Epiphany we point and step to another stepping stone in the celebration of the coming of the Christ Child.  We have heard about Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem, the Angels proclaiming the birth of Jesus Christ, the shepherds being inspired to go to see the child wrapped in swaddling cloths and today we come with the three Wise Men who bring gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.  Each gift denoting one of the offices of Jesus Christ as Prophet, Priest and King.
Yet, what is found in these gifts by the Wise Men are not monetary riches or value in the gifts placed at the foot of the manger, but the ‘unfathomable riches’ found in the manger of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  For Jesus Christ is the greatest gift given not only unto Mary and Joseph, but unto the entire world.  Just as we build and yearly rebuild a manger scene, insure it remains erect even in spite of the wind of Western Kansas.  The gift of Jesus Christ found wrapped in swaddling cloths is meant to be shared with our world.
Jesus Christ sole purpose was to come into this world in order to save each and every one of us and take us home to be with Him in His Kingdom.  Jesus Christ offer of life and salvation, eternal life is in order that we might enter into eternal glory and be with Him for all eternity.  Jesus Christ wants His gift for us and the message of salvation that was foretold in sacred story to be told not only by the shepherds, the people in Israel, but by all of us who claim to be Christian.
After the business of this holiday season, Michele, Sarah and I spent our ‘vacation’ close to home.  During this time we introduced Sarah to the “Star Wars” movies, not just the latest, “Rogue One” in the theater, but even the original trilogy, then the prequels and finally the latest episode.  In the first movie that began the series of movies nearly 40 years ago, entitled, “Star Wars: A New Hope” the character, Luke Skywalker, learned that in of himself, trusting in technology he would fail in trying to destroy the Death Star.  But when Luke trusted in the Force he would succeed.
Translating this message for us today, just like the wise men, they knew what the prophecies were, but the treasures they carried, their journey if focused upon themselves would ultimately fail.  But if they trusted in Who they found in the manger, their journey and experience would be successful.  We who gather here today need to apply these lessons both from Star Wars and the Wise Men who followed a star to ourselves.
For Who we find in the manger is none other than the Savior of the World, Jesus Christ.  His riches are endless and the gifts He can give us are limitless.  When we trust and are willing to tell others, or preach and proclaim what we find in the manger, and the gifts He offers all of mankind, our reward, our eternal reward will be beyond our wildest imagination.
You see the message of the wise men and our celebration of Epiphany is not static or for the here and now, but it is forward looking to what is to come.  How out of God’s great love for us our world would be radically changed and out of God’s love manifest in His Son, Jesus Christ, the world would be offered eternal life found in the manger, by the Three Wise Men and we who gather to celebrate today.  The message of Jesus Christ is what we are called to share in season and out of season.  This is the message we are called to bring others to the saving knowledge of the Savior of the world.  This is the true message the Three Wise Men found in the manger of a Savior Who came to offer Himself in order that we might have eternal life.  For Jesus Christ is the ‘richest treasure’ found in the manger.
And we who gather here today not only find the treasure, but we are inspired, dare I say, “We are called to preach the unfathomable riches of Christ!  For in our preaching the ‘riches of Christ’, we not only give nod to the gift found in the manger, but lay claim to the love He showers upon each of us with each and every day of our lives.  May we today during this season of Epiphany be inspired to share this message of the Messiah that was found by the Three Wise Men.  And not only point to, but boldly fulfill our calling to tell others about Jesus Christ, since we are God’s children in, through and by our baptism into the Savior, we find in the manger that we celebrate today with the Three Wise Men.  AMEN.

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