Thursday, January 7, 2016

Sermon for the Epiphany of Our Lord: "Light in the Darkness"

+ The Epiphany of our Lord – January 6th, 2016 +
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Epiphany means “to reveal”, to shine a light in the darkness.

Today we celebrate the Epiphany of our Lord. Jesus is the Light in the darkness of our fallen world. Jesus is the Messiah whom the prophets longed for, the King whom the wise men sought to find, the Savior whom the shepherds ran to worship. Christ, our Morning Star, has finally dawned.

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
    and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
    and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your rising.
Epiphany means to reveal, to shine a light in the darkness.

And we live in a land of deep darkness, just as Israel did in Isaiah’s day, and the wise men did in theirs. Isaiah saw injustice, poverty, exile, homelessness, people abandoning God for false gods, people loving riches more than their fellow man, darkness of sin covering the whole earth…and so do we, only we have the advantage of the internet and cable news to fill our homes and minds with the darkness of this world faster than the speed of light.

The wise men saw a wicked king hell-bent on serving himself, who pretended to love God’s word but only used it for his own gain, who abandoned the Lord for idols fashioned by human hands - hands that also murdered every child in Bethlehem two years and younger. But we see the same shadow of death over our land too. Our children are murdered in abortion clinics, our elderly by euthanasia. There are financial challenges in our homes and church; we face illness, terror, and death.

And truth be told, we love the darkness. Not perhaps the kind we see on the news, but within each of us is a sinful heart of darkness. We have sinned against God and our neighbor in thought, word, and deed. Yes, we live in a land of deep darkness, and we’re socked in.

Where do we find a light in the darkness? Do we look for some mystical light within us? To the flashing neon lights of the world? No. Like the wise men, we turn to the Light of the world shining forth in God’s Word.

That’s how the wise men found Jesus. The star only got them to Jerusalem. It was the prophet Micah who brought Epiphany to the wise men, who revealed God’s light to their path. Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal light and life.

It is this same Word that brings Epiphany to us. Jesus Christ is the Light of the World, come for you.

Jesus is the Light who first broke the silence and void of creation with his word: “Let there be light…and it was so.”
Jesus is the Light of the World who was made flesh for Israel, the wise men, and for you.
Jesus is the Light of the World who shines most clearly for us, just as he did for the wise men, in the holy lamp of his Word.

For we have something far better and brighter than a star: Jesus’ Word of life. It is a light for you in dark places when all other lights go out. By His word, God leads you to the Christ Child. The Light of God’s Word points you to Jesus’ greatest glory and Epiphany for you…not in Bethlehem of Judea, but in Jerusalem, upon the cross. God reveals his greatest love for you in Jesus crucified for you.
In him is life, and the life is the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Jesus Christ is the Light of the World, made flesh to save you. Jesus Christ is the Light of the world, the light no darkness can overcome – not the devil’s wicked temptations, not the world of chaotic sin, nor our heart of darkness. All of it – our sin, death, and darkness, is swallowed up by the light of Christ on the cross.
And from the cross, Jesus casts the brilliant beams of God’s light to you here in this beacon of Light.
God’s Word is a lamp to my feet,  and a light to our path.

God’s Word casts the light and life of his crucifixion over you in your Baptism, where you are made a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  You are no child of the night, but of the day.

God’s Word pierces our heart of darkness in with the radiance of sins forgiven. In Holy Absolution light and life come to us in simple words: Be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven. Let there be light, and it is so.
God’s Word points us once again to Bethlehem where we come and worship and receive the Christ Child, not resting on Mary’s lap, but hidden in the bread and wine for our forgiveness. In the Lord’s Supper, Jesus continues his Epiphany for you. Jesus reveals that simple bread and wine are his flesh and blood given for you to outshine the darkness of our thoughts, words, and deeds.
Jesus Christ is the Light of the World, come for you.

And Jesus Christ is the Light of the world who shines through you to others. You are now a child of the light. Therefore do not walk in darkness. Rather, walk in the light. You are a city set on a hill. Do not hide who you are, but let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Reflect the light of Christ as you share the Good News of Jesus born for you with your friends, coworkers, and neighbors. Shine the light of Christ on those friends and family members you know whose lives are full of darkness and are in need of compassion, care, and mercy. Share your earthly possessions of time and money in this place, that Redeemer may continue to be a haven of God’s light in a dark world where Jesus’ Epiphany, birth, life, and death are sorely needed.

For this is the one message that truly gives hope, life, and salvation – this Epiphany and for all eternity.  Jesus Christ is the light of the world, come to save you.

A blessed Epiphany to each of you…

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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