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Let Your Light Shine Before Others: The Epiphany

January 6, 2019
Isaiah 60:1-6
Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14
Ephesians 3:1-12
Matthew 2:1-12

* On this day, in place of a regular sermon, Peter Mansell wrote six monologues relating to the Epiphany story, which were read by members of the congregation. *

Speaker #1: – Hospitality

I am a weaver in Bethlehem. It’s a very small village. Only a few buildings. Yet, many people came here for the Census –- people from our Tribe of Benjamin, from the line of David. Too many for all the houses where travellers stay. Too many for the homes of regular families. But I know my people. They would never turn anyone away. If the guest rooms and the bedrooms on the second floor are full, even the poorest family in my village will give over spaces on the flat roof, where the night air is cold. And, if everything is full, people are given space on the ground floor, in the courtyard among the animals. In Israel, the stranger is always received. This is the hospitality our people have shown for centuries, as part of our deal with God after being rescued from Pharaoh.

I remember that young woman from the north. She had a difficult birth. The whole house was awake until they could hear the child cry. Then, and only then, the women who attended her, and the whole house, could get some rest.

Speaker #2 – The bright star

I am an astronomer, from Babylon. A star appeared. Well, really not a star, but two planets crossed paths twice within two years. The first time, this bright light appeared in the East in Pisces, the sign of the Jews. We concluded that someone royal was being born. By the time my fellow astronomers and I packed a camel train and traveled north, then west, and then south to Jerusalem, avoiding the desert, the light appeared again, this time to the south of the city. And then it was gone.

The King of Jerusalem proved to be violent in reputation. He had killed his wife and son the year before for merely whispering about taking his crown. We did not know any of this when we asked him to show us the King of the Jews. But after we visited a two-year old child we believed
to be Christos, we returned, traveling east of the Jordan and the desert.

I have returned, convinced that my faith is restored, and that I have seen the Anointed One of God.

Speaker #3 – Gifts of the Magi

I am a servant in the house where that baby was born among the animals. Strange visitors came two years later to see that child, in a house closer to the market place. I don’t remember how many, but they brought three gifts: Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. Such wonderful rich gifts for a poor family on the road.

The gold can be spent anywhere and saves a lot of time bartering or carrying things to barter and trade.

The frankincense burns with a huge cloud of aromatic smoke, leaving no trace. This takes all flies and fleas out of the house where it is burned. Such a relief for an infant. And relief for others in the house, working good will for the traveler who uses it.

And myrrh, as everyone knows, is blended with aloes to make a paste you carry in a jar. This cleans and draws poison from any wounds. I am sure that poor mother father and baby boy never saw such rich and luxurious gifts before, or since. I certainly had not.

Speaker #4 – Consequences

I have a cousin in Bethlehem. I leave today to visit her. She’s mad with grief. Herod sent his troops to kill children there, including her son, Baruch. And not just some children. All the boys two years and younger, including newborns. It is so hard to say, and even harder to think of it.

Tomorrow all those innocent babies will be buried. A wailing has gone up in Bethlehem that has not ceased since the horrible massacre. My cousin cries out to know why. Someone told me that the child who was born with the animals during the Census is the one Herod wanted to kill. But that family packed up their house and left for Egypt, or maybe north, or maybe somewhere else weeks before the soldiers came. So those baby boys were slaughtered for nothing. Baruch died for nothing. Nothing.

Speaker #5 – Why ruin the story…

I am a retired person, living in the twenty-first century. I hear all these ugly details about the life of Jesus as a baby and as a child, and I don’t want to hear how he barely escaped death day after day.

I want angels in the sky over Bethlehem, so bright a cloud of angels, singing to the shepherds that they ALL left their sheep and rushed to the Manger.

You tell me someone had to stay behind and watch the sheep? I don’t care. You tell me people in the village would notice such a bright light, but I don’t care.

I believe God would make it all work out. None of these details were told to me in Sunday School. Why bring them up now?

I want my wise men to be Three Kings from the Orient.
I want a star directly over the place where Jesus lay.
I want the story to be just like it is in the carols we sing in church.

You tell me that that’s all European images in European music. I really don’t care. Why do you want me to learn anything new? Shouldn’t Christmas be about comfort and joy? Not learning and growing.

Speaker# 6 – Epiphany Today

I live in the real world of here and now.
It creeps me out to hear people use church language out in public.
It reminds me of the guy in Toronto who comes up to you and yells in your face, “DO YOU KNOW JESUS?”
I see the look on friends’ faces even when I say the word, “pray”.
Somehow, it seems inappropriate in a world that has become so
completely secular.
Or in a community that now has become so fully multi-cultural. I am in this real world, but I am not of this world.

Epiphany means showing forth.
In a Hebrew context it means showing Christ to the Gentiles.
So, how do I show Jesus to others?
In today’s world, it seems to me that my actions are my best option.

• I can behave like Jesus – and try to have compassion for all,
• Like Jesus I can stand up to the false and evil energies I find in front of me – hopefully with His wisdom I find in Scripture.
• And I can celebrate like Jesus – mostly with laughter and kindness wherever I go.
• And I can try to LOVE like Jesus – sacrificing for the sake of

If Jesus is my role model every day, then I am showing him to the world through my own behaviour.

As the song says; This little light of mine / I’m going to let it shine….

© 2019 Peter Mansell