Weekly Church Service – 6 January, Epiphany 2019

 Includes Sermon Audio

Sentence:

They saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and worshipped him. Matthew 2: 11


Today’s readings

Isaiah 60:1 – 6
Psalm 72:1 – 7, 10 – 14
Ephesians 3:1 – 12
Matthew 2:1 – 12

next week
Isaiah 43:1 – 7
Psalm 29
Acts 8:14 – 17
Luke 3:15 – 22


Collect of the day

Eternal God, who by a star led the Magi to the worship of your son, guide the nations of the earth by your light, that the whole world may see your glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


A thought to ponder upon

Epiphany – Matthew 2: 1 – 12

The story of the astrologers in the Star of Bethlehem is unique to Matthew’s Gospel. Note that Matthew does not call them kings nor does he give them their names nor reports where they came from – in fact, Matthew never even specifies the number of Magi (because 3 gifts are present to the child it has been a tradition since the 5th century to picture “3 wise men”). In stripping away the romantic layers that have been added to the story, Matthew’s point can be better appreciated.

A great many first testament ideas and images are presented in this story. The star, for example is reminiscent of Balaam’s prophecy that “a star shall advance from Jacob” (Numbers 24:17) many of the details in Matthew’s story about the child Jesus parallel the story of the child Moses and the Exodus.

Matthew’s story also provides a preview of what is to come. First, the reactions of the various parties to the birth of Jesus parallel the effects Jesus teaching will have on those who hear. Herod reacts with anger and hostility to the Jesus of the poor who comes to overturn the powerful and rich. The chief priests and scribes greet the news with a haughty indifference towards the Jesus who comes to give new life and meaning to the rituals and laws of the scribes. But the Magi – non-believers in the eyes of Israel – possessed the humility and openness of mind and heart essential to the faith that leads them to seek and welcome the Jesus who will institute the second covenant between God and the new Israel.

Secondly, the gifts of the astrologers indicate the principal dimensions of Jesus’s mission

Gold is a gift fitting for a king, a ruler, one with power and authority

Frankincense is a gift fitting for a priest, one who offers sacrifice (frankincense was an a aromatic perfume sprinkled on the animals sacrificed in the Temple)

Myrrh is a fitting “gift” for someone who is about to die (Myrrh was used in ancient times for embalming the bodies of the dead before burial)

Epiphany calls us to a new vision of the world that sees beyond the walls and supporters that we have created and to walk by the light which is dawn for all of humankind, a light would buy which we are able to recognise all men and women as our brothers and sisters under the loving providence of God, the Father of all

The Magi’s following of the star is a journey of faith, a constant search for meaning, for purpose, for the things of God that each one of us experiences in the courses of our own lives.

What we read and watch and listen to in search of wealth fame and power are the “stars” we follow. The journey of the Magi in Matthew’s Gospel puts our own “stargazing” into perspective, calling us to fix and search on the “star” of God’s justice, peace and compassion © Connections/Media Works


Sermon Audio

The Reverend Josie Steytler preaches from the text after the gospel reading.

Direct MP3 Download ⇓

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