Today’s Word from Pastor Dennis Hanson…

The Church Year and the secular calendar do not always match up. Officially, in the church calendar, Christmas ends on January 5; January 6 is Epiphany Day. Then follow the Sundays in Epiphany which means “make manifest/known.” We hear stories of Jesus’ baptism, temptation, and others where He is witnessed to as Lord and Savior; The Child of Matthew’s Gospel story. It is now time for the Magi to appear.

Madeleine L’Engle, in her book The Irrational Season, tells of her childhood days in France. On January 5 the children would place their shoes out for the visit of the Wise Men who would come “bearing gifts.” In the morning, she writes, one shoe held a new drawing pad, the other a box of colored pencils. The Twelfth Night or Feast of Kings. That tradition is strange to most of us. We usually plunk the wise men down among the sheep and cows in the stable, and let it go at that.

It’s an interesting story, unique in itself. There is the five-pointed star as the season’s symbol for these men from the East, who had heard about a new King coming, and were looking for him following the moving star. They talked to Herod about where he might be (Herod was not happy to hear about another king). Herod calls for some Jewish leaders to help out, and they refer the Wise Men to Micah in the Old Testament, where it is said that in Bethlehem they should find him. Herod tells them to go and see and report back. Matthew tells us how they found The Child and the Holy Family in the house (?). The Wise Men worship and give praise to God and gave their offerings of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Then they leave – skipping going back to Herod who they hear has plans other than worshiping this competitive king.

In her best moments the Church learns from this story The Child does not belong to one people only or one region only. He is for all nations, all people. But when he moved about doing good for everyone some got worried and sought his execution – crucifixion in fact. They succeeded. But God raised him from the dead. The Church picked up on that wonder, and spread out all over the world telling about it. Today He is still poking into your life and mine and millions of others through Word and Sacrament and through this person or that one.

He comes to church services too – usually as a stranger. This becomes our Epiphany gift – always wondering who will appear in our midst who is not necessarily “one of us,” but one who has been brought into our midst to be welcomed.

So, when we next begin worship in our building and get reacquainted, be sure to keep your eyes open to a stranger in our midst; one who has come to our House where the Christ is worshiped and glorified and wants to “see” and “hear” this Good News. Who knows; they may even leave an offering too!

Blessings to you in this New Year!
Pastor Dennis