or the Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles
What a long title for a simple thought. The Epiphany is the title of the feast recalling the arrival of the Magi to pay homage to the Lord Jesus. Epiphany means revealing or becoming aware. Our Lord was revealed first to the Hebrews through the shepherds; the first gentiles (non-Hebrews) to whom He was first revealed were the Magi or Wise Men who came from afar to pay Him honor.
Epiphany is a fixed day, it is always the Sixth of January, twelve or thirteen days after Christmas Day, depending on how you count.
Through the leading of the star, the wise men from Persia (modern day Iran) were led to seek the Christ Child. This was the “revealing” of Christ to the Gentiles, and the first such event. Though Jesus mainly ministered to the Jews of Israel, it is important to note He ministered to the Roman governor and the Faithful Centurion (from which our parish gets its name) both of whom were Gentiles.
Though the Apostles in the early church did not think that ministering to the Gentiles was worthy, through the actions of Saint Paul, The Word began spreading to the Gentiles. Paul says in his Epistle that the time has come that we should start spreading to the Gentiles, and bring our gifts (talents) to His Service (as our talents truly are on loan from God, as Rush Limbaugh said) and use them accordingly to further His purpose on this planet.
Paul also said he was charged by God to bring The Word to all, not just the Jews. The time was now ripe to expand past the original target market (the Jews), and to spread it to all. He said that he wished to explain the mysteries (The Word) of God to all, including the Gentiles, that they might see and hear The Word.
When Herod tries to entice the wise-men to find the Christ child and report His whereabouts to him so that he could as he claimed “that I will come and will worship him.”, the wise-men realize like most modern leaders of the world today, his words were duplicitous in nature. “I will come and worship him” translated to he would come and murder Christ, as he did the Holy Innocents, while Christ was in Egypt.
The wisemen, however, fortunately, were warned in a dream, after visiting the Christ child, by God, of Herod’s true intentions, and went home a different way, that they would avoid a confrontation with Herod. They brought him frankincense, incense and myrrh. In a way, they did what Paul talked about and brought Him “gifts” for His Service. Now we do not know if these gifts were ever used in Christ’s life. But, like present time gift giving, it is not necessarily the gifts that are important. It is the thought and the meaning behind the giving of gifts that mean the most.
Now in this troubled time, we must be ready to bring our talents to Him, to use for His Glory and to Spread His Word. In this time, we must spread The Word and without ceasing praise Him and His Majesty. In order to institute a turnaround of the moral decay, we must first act. If we do not act, how can we expect to stem the tide of the moral decay. We must act with steadfast purpose.
This may require some courage on our behalf, as we will be mocked and perhaps in this troubled time, may come a day, where we like the apostles are thrown in jail. However scary this time may be for spreading His Word, no matter how hostile it is, we must do it anyway. We must be like the men who brought freedom to this land, who defended our country when its freedom was threatened in all its wars from the War of Independence, through to the present, having been reading recently a lot on World War II, I think of the fear that must have gone through the hearts of those who participated in the amphibious assaults of D-Day, Tarawa, Peleliu, Guam, Saipan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Yet, they did what was to be done. Proper action under very fearful circumstances, doing what must be done.
The important thing to remember about these men is they showed steadfast purpose and courage. It was a nerve racking thing as one approached a foreign beach of an island/land, not knowing what hell the enemy planned. But, the important lesson is they moved their boots forward into danger, knowing they would most likely pay for this advance with their lives.
As they stepped forward into danger, we must step forward into this hostile world, and charge forward against the fire of the hostile media and people, whose hearts have been turned to stone. We must charge against them, using The Word as our defense and our offense against Satan. The greatest defense is the best offense. And we truly have both in The Word of God. We must remember that God wants everybody to follow Him, not just certain ethnic groups (like the Jews), and we must concentrate on spreading His Word, through bringing our Gifts and Talents to His Service.
Be of God – Live of God – Act of God
The Rev. Charles (HAP) Arnold