Sermon For Fourth Sunday of Epiphany 2019
I must say that I have been both fascinated and challenged by the exploration of Epiphany this year.
Today this time is drawing to a conclusion, with the finale next week at the Feast of the presentation.
We have seen how for Luke it was the Shepherds who lead us into the Epiphany… the manifestation of God in Christ
For Matthew (which perhaps is more natural for us to say) the Wise men show us the Epiphany of God in Christ open for all the world to see and to recognise as we are invited to come and worship with them and bring our own gifts… what can I give him poor as I am etc?
In Mark it is the Baptism of Christ and the words of heaven “this is my Son… listen to him” that opens up the Epiphany moment when our eyes are encouraged to look and see God in Christ ready to embark on proclaiming the good news of Gods Kingdom on earth.
Last week we found ourselves at a wedding feast… perhaps it was our own wedding banquet and our wine had run dry and Jesus uses water in vast quantities to offer us the best new wine of the Kingdom which we are invited to drink.
Today we find Jesus in the Synagogue reading the Prophet Isaiah and we here that when the Kingdom of God is witnessed the poor hear the good news, the blind recover their sight, those who feel trapped discover freedom, the oppressed find freedom, and those who are in any kind of debt are released from it. The Kingdom of God brings in ever new and liberating possibilities.
Over the last weeks we have also been invited to realise that we have the mind of Christ, and that One Spirit is moving within us.
I have also put before us the three questions which we can always use when invited into Scripture readings and into the stories of the Gospels in particular.
The, So What?
And the ,What next?.
(Perhaps we realise that rarely do we allow ourselves the discovery of the answer to even the last two what questions)
So to bring these questions to the Synagogue today… If the Kingdom of God means these things…. So what?
Are we going to gaze on the reader (Jesus) and when he rolls the scroll up just move on to thinking about something else….. or are we like the disciples going to keep on following Jesus and work out ways of making this Kingdom he spoke about a reality?
Well I would like to think we choose the latter and follow Jesus along the way and learn from him.
Paul today helps us a little in this ..
He tells us we are the Body of Christ.
This is a big ask… a huge point. We are the Body of Christ.
If the Shepherds, wise men, and the folk at the wedding realised in Christ that the Kingdom of God was living and present…
How much more should they realise that the Kingdom of God was living and present when they look at the Body of Christ today…. You and me?
Next week we find ourselves at the Temple Simeon and Anna are there and Mary and Joseph bring in their first born son, to do for him what is prescribed in the law.
Simeon and Anna have been waiting nearly all their lives to see God’s Kingdom fulfilled and when Jesus is there they recognise this is the very moment. Simeon even takes him in his arms and declares that he can now die in peace knowing that it has happened.
When we come to celebrate the Feast of the presentation next week, are we going to come with the same mind as Simeon and Anna? How much have we been waiting for the Kingdom of God to be realised?
Will we be able next week to declare “Now I have seen it” Now I know the Kingdom of God is present… now I am part of it as a member of the Body of Christ?
Will we be able to witness to the Epiphany too? Can we recognise God in Christ reconciling the world… can we see ourselves as part of this amazing thing?
God knows the world needs it, God knows the worlds needs us!