EPIPHANY—A PLACE FOR EVERYONE
Isaiah 60:1-5, 10-12. Matt.2:1-12
January is the celebration of EPIPHANY the revelation of God’s love-- our EPIPHANY is the birth of Jesus –and the Christmas story tells us there is A PLACE FOR EVEYONE- the very presence of GOD’s love shining on everyone in the world.
****I read a story over the holidays-it was an EPIPHANY for this minister.
He went on to say—“Once I’d been given an acting part in the church Christmas play-it was then I began to understand central message of Christmas Pageant. The main message of the story- there’s PLACE for everyone in the Christmas story. As we were getting ready for our first performance—just before the curtain went up--
A beloved kindergartener appeared on stage-wearing a feathered white swan costume- it stood out in sharp contrast to the gray/brown manger scene.
As the minister, the Director expected me to discourage this little girl from wearing the swan costume. Kneeling down beside the little girl I asked if she wouldn’t she rather be a donkey-sheep or goat.
I’M A SWAN she said. —I tried to explain there where no swans at Jesus’ cradle.
She looked at me with calm conviction.
DON’T YOU THINK SWANS LOVE JESUS TOO?
I TOLD DIRECTOR SWANS ARE IN!!
The minister suddenly realized that the Christmas story is not just about Jesus being born but there is room in God’s inn for everyone including a swan.
In years past, we all attended our Sunday Schools’ Christmas pageant—and we all enjoyed seeing the children from the youngest to the oldest dressed up and playing their part.
I’m sure it brought back memories--- we all wanted to be near the baby --to be Mary or Joseph but first –we were assigned the part of an angel-or a shepherd or one of many animals.—oh to be a Magi–to kneel before the baby Jesus. Finally we got to be one of the Magi or Mary or Joseph near baby Jesus who lay beaming brightly in the cradle. And the flashing of cameras as our parents and grandparents recorded our performance.
When the curtain fell, we all sang “Away in a Manger.” And bow to the applause!
Many of us church goers never get past the beautiful story of baby Jesus in the cradle and all the children on stage. When it is over we go home and wait for another year for the Christmas celebration.
We often miss important modern lessons I think lie within the story that address our situation in the world today.
We might discovered several stories expressing ways God’s light comes to us, a sort of EPIPHANY, each story telling us there is a place and a role for each of us.
So, this morning, I thought it might be a good idea to take another look at the Christmas story and see if there is a message for us today.
Starting with the story of:
Luke 1: 34-38
-- The story of the angel telling MARY, 12-14 year old young girl pregnant with Jesus—and her cousin ELIZABETH 90 years old pregnant with John the Baptist –Mary she will have a baby and her reply caused artists and musicians to capture this moment on canvas and song.
How Mary goes to Elizabeth and console each other. Why had God had chosen them, a young unmarried girl and an old cousin who was beyond her child bearing years.
It’s a message of “impossible becoming possible.” God will use people no matter their age, their gender and even if handicapped physical or mentally; God can and will use you.
We think we’re too young or too old to help out.—or don’t ask me, I’ve been there done that-- maybe it’s a bad ankle or hip . But this scene tells us God will use us regardless of what our stage in life
-we just have to be willing to do what we can!
Then in: Luke 2: 6-7
--The struggle of YOUNG Mary and hubby JOSEPH, expecting their first baby—having to put up with a long journey on a donkey to Bethlehem—having to settle for a smelly, draughty stable to have her baby-just some thin strips of cloth. We wonder how Mary coped with such poor conditions to have her first child.
Doesn’t it remind us of all REFUGEES from mid east countries, who face a similar situation today —travelling in the in the desert, in unfriendly land.-- mothers giving birth in tents.
Are we, the E.U. and West going to turn them away-do we have no room in our inn or will we make room.
Just think, right here in our own valley there could be a young couple, the young mother expecting their first child-father unemployed--living in a one room apartment --getting food from a food bank.
Jesus birth tells us to open our hearts, to search out those in need and make a place at our table.
The Shepherds: Luke 2: 15-18
--Then, there’s the SHEPHERDS, the poor dirt farmers of the day--nomads-following their sheep to good grazing--why are they part of the story— shouldn’t the rich Magi have been the first to pay homage to the baby—never mind the poor shepherds. God seems to give priority to the poor-it goes along with Jesus teaching “that the last shall be first.”
God sends Her Love expecting us to reach out to the poverty stricken –the homeless-drug addicted –they are not be forgotten--they are given a prominent place ,
--. I have been told there are 100 or more homeless people in Valleyfield-- can the church make room for them in our busy lives?--the story tells us God’s love has a special place for the poor-the lonely—the downtrodden—the story tells us we should consider them when we make our budgets and do all we can to help them.
Finally THE MAGII: Matthew 2: 9-11
the amazing story of THE MAGI (some call them Wisemen) The contrast between the Magi’s riches and the “humble cattle stall” We see the Magi coming from countries like Iran, Turkey and Syria,(today’s names) these were scholars coming together to honour baby Jesus.
We see the wealthy Magi sharing their wealth with a poor family who had to bed down with the barn animals.— GOD tells us—“ we are our brother’s keeper” and we must share our very best for those in need. The Magi brought very expensive gifts of gold-frankincense and no shoddy second hand stuff-- but the best.
We are reminded that wealth doesn’t bring happiness but it’s in sharing the blessings God has given us brings happiness..
I’m sure if we reflect on this theme “God has a PLACE FOR EVERYONE.” The question arises “what do we do with all the refugees fleeing the war torn countries.—what about the REFUGEES coming to Canada.
Some of us choke, when we think of the 50,000 how will we ever be able to handle that many. They will over burden our social aid and health systems.
We need to be reminded this is not the first time we have opened our door to others.
The Irish potato famine in 1847, 110,000 (more than double) sick and dying Irish arrived in Quebec City and Montreal, many of them with typhus. 45,000 were sent to Toronto in one summer, double the population of the city. Citizens responded, they built hospitals, sent newcomers to farms, fed them and averted what could have been a disaster.
Protestants had to tame their fears of CATHOLICS, look past differences to help our fellow human beings. Today we must eliminate our fear of MUSLIMS-learn about their culture and recognize all the refugees want peace and security.
We have the experience we have no excuse for not doubling up on the 50,000. Our ancestors did it and Canada became better off for it. So we should learn from our past and look forward to a more diverse, prosperous nation.
On the TV News this week it showed refuggee children sliding in the snow. The look on their faces is enough to melt our hearts knowing we have room in our INN and can give them a better future.
Doesn’t today’s refugee crisis seem “Déja-Vu.”
This is when we Canadians are at our best!
The Christmas Story is an Epiphany-- God is telling us:
There’s- a place for those of different faiths
a place for those who are suffering
a place for those who need healing.
“GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD SHE GAVE HER SON… a son whose light shines on all of us- male and female-young-old-rich-poor-the pensioners-gays-transgender; yes there is a PLACE FOR EVERYONE in his KINGDOM.