Seeking & Sharing – Epiphany 2013

Epiphany 2013   AUDIO – as ever it changed & expanded in delivery!!

One of the popular hobbies that has emerged in the last few years is geocaching – a combination of the outdoors and modern technology, it’s like a giant treasure hunt using GPS co-ordinates and internet logging to hide and seek  containers where you can leave notes, items , anything of interest to the next people to find it. The fun is in the search, and in the ability to leave a message, and to tell others where you’ve been, what you found and where you’re off to next,

It’s an interesting development  in our world which really illustrates our need to be connected , and to share our stories, but also to have a purpose – for geocachers, walks in the country aren’t just a wander with the dog, they have  a purpose –  setting out to find a particular cache, or  to log as many as possible in a day for instance.

Geocaching is also something that is open to all, there’s a community and some belonging –maybe registering on the website, but no one is barred from it, from small children & families, to grandparents and young adults all these & more take part in the game, in the hunt and are included in the community of those sharing what they’ve found.

Im sure you’ve already started to see the link  with what we celebrate today, the Feast of the Epiphany, the arrival of the Magi, the wise ones,  who having travelled many miles and for a long time, months  even years perhaps, finally find the thing that they had been searching for, the baby born to be king of the Jews.

Of course the Magi had no GPS navigational devices, &  no internet  forums  on which discuss their journey.  They studied the wisdom of their time, the stars and their meanings and they believed that Jesus was something worth seeking and finding.

They understood, by what could only have been divine revelation, that they had to go, & travel and find this King, not knowing who and where and how,

God used their search for wisdom, by whatever means they were looking to reveal to them what he was doing.

Step by step, mile by mile, rather like the map reading and compass directions used in an orienteering course.

These wise ones could only trust and keep going,  understanding that somewhere at the end of this hazardous and arduous journey there was a  treasure to be found. .

Something worth keeping on towards.

It was only when they met Herod that the pieces began to fall into place,  here they began to understand the prophecies of the Jewish people and to put them together with what God had revealed to them in their search for the truth.

I wander, geocaching aside what it is we search for in life?

Is it happiness, or love or peace

Is it physical comfort, or health or something else?

All of  these things are good things,

What really matters in our searches in life is our openness to hearing the voice of God in them, to trust that as we seek, he will reveal more & more of himself to us.

As with the Story of the Wise ones, God reveals himself to us in surprising ways, often helping us to find something we didn’t even know we were looking for. He reveals himself in ways which we might think were nothing to do with God or religion,

I know of someone whose search was for peak physical fitness, constant training, ever pushing themselves further and harder, delighting in strength and endurance,

God met them in that search to be the fastest and the fittest,

God met them in a sudden revelation of the way muscles and joints work together, the way  the body heals itself, and strengthens under pressure.

They weren’t looking for faith, or for anything other than fitness., but  God revealed himself to them, in that search,  because He knew what their real needs were.

Are we open to what God might reveal to us in our searching through life?

Are we also prepared to share what we discover?

The revelation about Jesus to the Wise ones was not just for them,

This event  is also pivotal and symbolic of the revelation of Gods purpose  outside the Jewish world,

This was a revolutionary and radical event in what was after all a very closed, tribal and exclusive society.

Each  nation, each tribe, each area was boundaried, they had their own gods and customs, their own prejudices and suspicions.,

And yet in this event, this revelation, God blows that apart.

He says to his people the Jews –“this is not just for you, this is for everyone”, he says to the Gentiles, the outsiders & the foreigners, “this is for you too…”

As the child Jesus is revealed to the Magi, the doors of God’s love are thrown open to the entire world.

In the reading from Ephesians Paul explains, that  this mystery of Christ for the world had not been made known to everyone, but now  the Gentiles have become “ fellow heirs”

though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ , and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things”

This was the moment that the radical different Kingdom of God  was opened to all

This was the moment it was clear that EVERYONE was welcome,

Isaiah hinted at it.. “Nations shall come to your light

He hints at the inclusiveness “ your sons shall come from far away, your daughters shall be carried on their nurses arms

But it is when the Glory of God in a tiny child is revealed to the seekers from the East who have been guided by  that God whom they didn’t  yet know, that is when these hints become reality,

As Paul says,  it is the “ outworking of God’s power

The pieces of the jigsaw start to fall into place.

And we are heirs of this amazing opening, this amazing revelation. We often forget in this context that we are the outsiders and the foreigners; without this Epiphany we would still be in the dark unaware of Gods love for us.

Our challenge is to be aware of those who now in our world are the outsiders and the foreigners.

If God opened up his plan of salvation to the whole world,  we cannot sit in our churches and guard  our faith as if it cannot be shared

We cannot exclude those who do things differently to us

Who look different or who think differently

We must also open up this story, this revelation of God’s love in Jesus and welcome the marginalised and the outsiders,

It’s so easy to build barriers, but that is the last thing God did, he knocked them down.

No one is excluded from the Kingdom,

No one can be excluded from God’s amazing love in Jesus.

We have been brought in as fellow heirs with Him, adopted as Gods children.

Our church must reflect that openness and inclusivity.

No one is saying it’s easy to do. You only have to read some of Pauls other letters to understand how the Jewish Christians found it so hard to include the incomers! But Gods Kingdom is an open kingdom, a radical kingdom and a place where all are equal, and where justice and grace are to rule.

To live any other way is to make  a mockery of today, this Epiphany, this revelation

Let all come & worship, for He came for everyone, from the least to the greatest, and our need of him is total, whoever we are.

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