St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church had Reverend James Abernathy as pastor this Sunday. Neil Nichols served as the Lay Minister. The Readers were Arthur Clark and David Maitland.
The First Reading was Isaiah 60:1-6. Isaiah prophesies about God blessing the Israelites with a great radiant light that will do away with darkness. Kings and all nations will come and bring frankincense and gold to proclaim and praise the gift God has given them.
The Second Reading was Ephesians 3:1-12. Paul relates to his followers how God has chosen him to bring the Word to the Gentiles. He brings the news of the boundless riches of Christ to them. It was always in God’s plan to include everyone to receive salvation, even though the Jews were called his chosen ones. It was his eternal plan and was carried out through Jesus Christ.
Reverend Abernathy read the Gospel Matthew 2:1-12. Matthew‘s gospel tells the story of the wise men from the East who came to find the New Born King. They went to Jerusalem to King Herod to tell him they wanted to pay homage to the child that has been born King of the Jews. This worried Herod, hearing that there would be a new King. He then advised the kings to find the child and report back to him. He was told that it was prophesized that a ruler would come to shepherd God’s people of Israel. The kings set out and followed a radiant star to the place where baby Jesus was born. They bowed before him and his mother Mary and paid homage to them with frankincense, gold, and myrrh. Being warned in a dream about King Herod, they returned home by a different road.
Reverend Abernathy discussed the story of the kings and different views about it. It did not state that there were three kings, but only mentioned three gifts—gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Where did they come from? He tells us that the country Oman is noted for its frankincense trees. The dried sap is gathered from them and used for its fragrance. These Eastern strangers were not Jews, but foreigners. This is considered by some to indicate that it was always God’s plan to have the incarnation of the “Word” to be for Gentiles also, or all people. Jesus was born a Jew, but he was intended to be the Savior of the entire world. This is an epiphany in itself, which means revealing or manifesting something of great importance.
Reverend Abernathy also related that some countries celebrate Epiphany with as much importance as Christmas. It celebrates that all non-Jews are included in the life of Christ. The season of Epiphany celebrates the manifestations of the life of Christ. It includes his Baptism, powers of miracles, his public ministry, declaring healing and preaching to the Gentiles, and his transfiguration. Each Sunday we will read and study about one of these epiphanies. The gospel was not made known to mankind until Christ came. He made it known that the Gentiles were loved and included in his salvation. Because of Christ, we can celebrate Epiphany as our Feast Day. He has made it known to the world that He gave his life for everyone so that we may all inherit the kingdom of God.
A special blessing was said for Jeanne Shepherd who will be going on a medical mission to Guatemala this week. She is a member of the group “Children of the Americas.” We will keep her and the team in our prayers.
A special blessing was also said for the anniversary of Charlotte and Alan Irwin.