This Homily was given at 10AM Holy Eucharist Rite II on Sunday, January 6, 2019 by The Rev. Liz Golub
Epiphany C 2019 St. Michael’s
Have you ever seen the sky filled with a million stars? Certainly not in NJ, but if you’ve traveled out west or up north the night time sky is a sea of tiny white lights amid the darkness. . And yet, in God’s plan each one of those stars has a purpose and meaning.
Today is the feast of Epiphany, when God announced the Good News of Jesus Christ to the gentiles, using 3 pagan astrologers from Persia as his messengers. Many years before, they saw a star that they realized was very different from any other. It was a sign. So they waited and studied and observed what was going on in the world around them. But the star didn’t go away so the magi used all their other study guides and charts to seek confirmation of the meaning of the star.
Thus they set out on a very long journey, over mountains and through the desert. All their years of study and travel were rewarded when they finallymet Jesus face to face. Thankfulness and praise flowed from every cell in their bodies. But then it was the next day.
Fifteen years ago, on the day before Epiphany I was ordained right here at St. Michael’s. It was an amazing day, the culmination of years of study, and the support and prayers of my family, friends and this community. It was a day I had dreamed of since I was a little girl. And I can’t begin to describe the feelings of joy and thanksgiving that filled my heart.
But then, it was the next day and I was preaching for the first time as a priest. Suddenly it dawned on me how the Magi must have felt as they began their trip back home after meeting Jesus for the first time. Now what? They were not the same people that had journeyed from afar and come to worship the baby king. They couldn’t go back the way they came so they had no choice but to move forward in a new direction
So here we are. We too have seen the star and worshiped the king. Perhaps it has been a defining moment for you this year. But the fact is that all of us have defining moment in our lives, where we meet Jesus face to face. Those encounters make us stop, take stop and ask the question: now what? I am not the same person I was yesterday. Where do I go from here? Epiphany calls on each of us to ponder the Scriptures and ask: what is God trying to tell us? Sometimes the answers come in mysterious ways.
I want to tell you a story. Once there was a writer working and vacationing on the coast of Spain. One morning, very early, he got up to take a walk along the beach. The sun was just rising, the rain had ended and there was a beautiful rainbow hovering over the calm sea. While enjoying the beauty around him, he glanced down the beach and saw a young man, gracefully picking up objects from the beach and tossing them into the sea.
He was fascinated by this other person celebrating the dawn so he moved closer. As he approached the young man, he saw the objects were starfish. “Why in the world are you throwing starfish into the water? He asked.
“If the starfish are still on the beach when the tide goes out and the sun rises higher in the sky, they will die,” replied the young man as he continued tossing them out to sea.
“That’s ridiculous,” answered the poet. “There are thousands of miles of beach and millions of starfish. You can’t really believe that what you’re doing could possibly make a difference!” The young man picked up another starfish, paused thoughtfully and remarked as he tossed it into the waves. “It makes a difference to this one.”
Like the starfish we also are changed and saved by our redeemer. We make a difference and Jesus will never stop picking us up and throwing us back into the sea of God’s grace. We are invited through this grace into something new, something more than what we have been. But more than that Jesus invites us to be stars of hope for one another. Just like he used the Magi as the light for the Gentiles, God uses each of us to be his light and life to one another. That is the gift of the Epiphany. When we encounter Jesus we are changed people.
So in these dark days of January I invite you to be the light shining in the darkness for one another. There are many needs around us, for example, sick or homebound parishioners that would enjoy a phone call, a visit or a hot meal. There are people in our family, community or workplace who suffer from depression especially in winter. Pray for them or reach out and ask if there’s anything you can do to help. Let’s make acts of kindness not so random.
Let us pray. O God of light and peace, whose glory, shining in the child of Bethlehem, still draws the nations to yourself: dispel the darkness that shrouds our path that we may come to kneel before Christ in true worship, offer him our hearts and souls, and return from his presence to live as he has taught. Amen.