Sermons on “Matthew”
Happy First Sunday after Epiphany! Monday we celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany, when the Magi — also known popularly as the Three Kings, or the Wise Men from the East — follow the star to the manger in Bethlehem where our newborn king lay.
For me, the arrival of the magi to worship the baby Jesus stands out as a really important moment in our story. We don’t know where they’ve come from — just some vaguely stated, mysterious “East.” We don’t know what they do back home, or what their race, nationality, religion, or cultural or economic background might be. We don’t even know what their mysterious expertise is, and why Herod and all Jerusalem with him are so terrified of them when they find out they’re on the move.
All this mystery about who these strangers are at the side of the manger — next to Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and whatever other animals might be gathered around the manger — gives each of us a place next to Jesus at the birth. All this mystery gives all of us — every one of us — a chance to walk along with the magi as they journey toward Jesus and away from Herod’s reign in Jerusalem. No one is excluded from the group gathered around Jesus at the manger, as we have no idea what that group might even be.View Sermon
One thing that stands out in the story from Matthew’s Gospel about the kings coming to the stable in Bethlehem: they are disobedient. In their attempt to find “the King of the Jews,” they receive an audience with Herod the King. It is Herod who points their search in the right direction, with instructions to come back with details. The orders are very clear. Yet after their experience with the baby, Matthew tells us that they went “home by another road,” blatantly disregarding the orders of the king. Their journey to the messiah led them to loving disobedience of even the most powerful ruler.
This story traditionally marks the season of Epiphany, the manifestation of Christ to the wise men and our call to take the light of Christ to the world. This season of Epiphany urges us to probe deeper into the epiphanies in our own lives, and discern, like the magi, what roads God calls us to. It asks what powers we must say no to because of Christ’s manifestation to us: consumerism, racism and hatred? Waste of resources? These things call to us today just as Herod called to the wise men long ago.