epiphany-blog

The day of Christmas, as the world celebrates, has come and gone.  Trees have been stripped and tossed out.  Music has been returned to it’s holding location on the playlists, until next year.  The gifts that were given to one another have been used up, washed, exchanged, or returned.  Some have even bought themselves the gifts they wanted and didn’t get.  You know, like the advertising slogan “you deserve to give yourself the gift.”  People have used words like “I’m over Christmas, now let’s move on to Spring.”  Sadly, this cynicism overshadows the entire Season of Christmas and the joy of Jesus’ birth has been missed by way too many.  Have we really stopped to look at Jesus in the Manger?  Have we really listened, and heard the Words of love and grace spoken by God the Father, because Jesus came to earth?  Have we stopped to look at why Jesus had to come?  Have we really heard the full message or have we overlooked the Unexchangable, Unchangeable, Irreplaceable Gift of Christ?

It’s not just the world that get’s all crazy busy and cynical about Christmas.  Many a Christian gets caught up with all the business and busyness of the world’s version of Christmas, you know that one day a year on December 25.  Needing to have the exact gift, the best dinner, the most events to attend, that “needed” trip, and in the end all the real Hope and Joy of Christmas gets lost.  The ancient church didn’t start out just celebrating on the 25th but did the Twelve Days of Christmas, which ended with Epiphany.

The season of Christmas, was designed to examine one’s self and look to the Christ Child – the Hope of All Nations and the Joy of our salvation.  The early church took time to Stop, Look, and Listen to the Savior.  It wasn’t business as usual, to hurry up and get on to the next thing on the calendar.  It was a time to truly reflect that Jesus had to come to save all people from the wages of sin and death. It was looking to the Father and thanking Him for loving His people so much that He would send His only Son to live and die for us, His enemies. Time revisiting the Scriptures to grasp that without the Holy Spirit working in Mary and Joseph, their would be no Christ.  It was a time to earnestly seek the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.   You see, Jesus came to bring us many gifts so let’s stop, look, and listen, so we don’t miss these four big gifts:  Forgiveness, Hope, Salvation, and Eternal Life.

In Isaiah 62, we see part of these gifts being foretold.  We see that we are to be watchmen and not rest until the day of salvation comes. God’s people are called to not be silent until the day God shows His righteousness.  For the ancient church they could easily see a time when they had been without God’s gift of Jesus Christ, so they had no trouble sharing the gift once they saw Jesus had come and fulfilled the Father’s plan.  They found real Hope and Joy in times of disaster and persecution because they had seen the Salvation of the Lord.  God’s chosen people, Israel, waited thousands of years for this Hope to be fulfilled.  Let us not forget that each of us has had a time, because we are all born sinful, that we have been without Jesus.  Let us not forget the marvelous gift as we await Christ’s second return. No matter what may come, how people fail you, how dark the night, with Jesus comes lasting Hope. This is a gift beyond compare.

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow. You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married. As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you. I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, (Isaiah 62:1–6, NIV).

The gifts we gain from Christ, Forgiveness, Hope, Salvation, and Eternal Life, are gifts we cannot purchase, cannot earn, and definitely don’t deserve.  Out of God’s infinite mercy, grace, and love, He gives them to us in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4–7, NIV84)

On Epiphany, we non Jews, celebrate with gusto because this is when the gift of Jesus Christ was presented to all of mankind.  It was no longer a promise for just a chosen, select group, but for simple, common, ordinary, gentiles.  So the next time cynicism, darkness, despair, betrayal, busyness, business, and whatever else try to invade not only the Season of Christmas but in your life, STOP, LOOK, LISTEN and DON’T MISS the gifts that Christ brought that first Christmas and continues to bring until the day He returns to take His children home for all of eternity.

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:1-14 NIV

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