Weekly Devotion

from Redeemer Pastor Mark H. Larson
With today’s Feast of the Epiphany, we bring our Christmas celebration to a close. So, one last chance to “Sing of Salvation:”
We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star
O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy Perfect Light
The nativity story in Matthew does not focus on the angels or the shepherds, but rather on the mysterious visitors from afar drawn to follow the Epiphany star.  They first go to Jerusalem, the center of religious and political power in Palestine, for isn’t that the kind of place you go to seek a new king? Later they realize that it will be in little Bethlehem that they will find the one whom they seek. The magi bring gifts to honor Jesus. The symbolic meaning of each gift tells part of the story of who Jesus is: gold for a king, frankincense to honor the divine, myrrh for burial.
These are Gentiles, not Jews, the wrong people to show up. Even worse, they were astrologers, a practice forbidden by the Torah. Yet these are the people who travel long days to bring amazing gifts to Jesus.
Today and in the Sundays following we celebrate the in-breaking of God’s love and light. In particular, this season helps us understand that the manifestation of God is for all people everywhere. This is a message of radical inclusivity. The magi are drawn from the east to come to pay homage to the Christ child. They who were once far off are now embraced by the one true God, who has sent a Savior into the world. Just as Isaiah had foretold, nations shall come to God’s light (Isa. 60:3).
In this inclusive reality, everyone is welcome, and so are their gifts. Just as the magi showed their respect for Christ with gold, frankincense, and myrrh, we can offer our gifts and talents to further the brightness of God’s dawn. Whatever we bring—no matter how simple—is accepted and used for a mighty purpose.
Through word and sacrament, we too are invited to rise and shine, for our light has come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon us. Fed and nourished in worship, we are sent forth to bear witness, to let our little lights shine.
As we look forward to a new year of mission and ministry, what gifts will you share? While the times we live in continue to be confusing and challenging, we are reminded of the promise from the Prolog to the Gospel of John we read on Christmas eve: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
Again so we sing together:
This little light of mine
I’m going to let it shine
Oh, this little light of mine
I’m going to let it shine
This little light of mine
I’m going to let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine
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