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‘The people who in darkness walked have seen a glorious light’

January 3, 2009
By The Rev. Fred Bird, Serving Episcopal Congregations in Elkins and Grafton

An old Epiphany hymn declares to all that "the people who in darkness walked, have seen a glorious light." This glorious light was the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. We now are entering the season of Epiphany, and we enter the realm of light. The days are growing longer and the nights are shorter. The light is growing. It is a time for transformation, not only for the earth, but for us as well.

On Jan. 6, the Feast of Epiphany is celebrated to honor the visit of the Magi, who came to bring precious gifts for the Christ child.

Like those wise men of old, celebrating the birth of Jesus is an incredible opportunity for all Christians to begin again.

We are invited through the Feast of the Epiphany to understand what it means to be a Christian and what God seeks to reveal to us and through us.

Following a bright star, the Magi first arrived at the palace in Jerusalem where they may have expected to find the new born king. Instead, they were met by the treachery of Herod, who sent the Magi on to find this new born king. By God's good grace, the Magi did find the baby Jesus but did not inform Herod of their wonderful discovery.

The Magi came with gifts that represent the best of what they could give. Their gifts pale in comparison to the great gift Jesus promises for the world. Jesus came as a weak, tiny baby. He did not come as a powerful worldly king. God's only son entered life in the most humble of circumstances. The Messiah of Israel was born in poverty, in a manger, a feeding trough for animals. This tiny, helpless baby became the gift for the whole world.

The visit of the Magi symbolizes for us much of what the Kingdom of God is about. The Magi came to the stable, not with disappointment, but with great joy.

The rich and the poor mingle in harmony in this story. The rich men from the East brought not only necessities, but luxury and beauty.

This story has a strong hint of the Kingdom of God that Jesus would later proclaim. Jesus preached peace on earth, goodwill toward all people, mercy to the poor and the full humanity of all individuals. The rich, the educated, the respected are kneeling before a poor child and his young mother.

(The opinions of this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Inter-Mountain, the Randolph County Ministerial Association or the author's church affiliation.)



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