The Feast of Epiphany
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth"  (John 1:14)

The Journey of the Magi (1894) by James Jacques Joseph Tissot

There came wise men from the East

from a sermon by Lancelot Andrewes, 
Church of England bishop, given on Christmas Day, 1620

Behold there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is He That is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the East, and are come to worship Him. - Matthew 2:1-2
These that came from the East were Gentiles, and that concerns us, for so are we.  We may then look out, if we can see this star.  It is ours, it is the Gentiles’ star.  We may set our course by it, to seek and find, and worship him as well as they.  So we come in, for ‘God hath also to the Gentiles set open a door of faith,’ and that he would do this, and call us in, there was some small star-light from the beginning.  This he promised by the patriarchs, shadowed forth in the figures of the Law, the Temple and the Tabernacle, the Prophets and the Psalms, and it is this day fulfilled.  These wise men are come who not only in their own names but in ours make here their entry; came and sought after, and found and worshipped, their Saviour and ours, the Saviour of the whole world.  A little wicket there was left open before, whereat divers Gentiles did come in; now the great gate set wide opens this day for all—for these here with their camels and dromedaries to enter and all their carriage.  Christ is not only for russet cloaks, shepherds and such; but even grandees, great states such as these came, and when they came they were welcome to him—for they were sent for and invited by this star, their star properly. 

They came a long journey, and they came an uneasy journey; they came a dangerous journey and they came now, at the worst season of the year.  They stayed not their coming till the opening of the year, till they might have better weather and way, and have longer days and so more seasonable and fit to travel in.  So desirous were they to come with the first, and to be there as soon as they possibly might; broke through all these difficulties, and behold, come they did. 

And we, what excuse shall we have if we come not?  If so short and easy a way we come not, as from our chambers hither?  And these wise men were never a whit less wise for so coming; nay, to come to Christ is one of the wisest parts that ever these wise men did.  And if they and we be wise in one Spirit, we will follow the same star, tread the same way, and so come at last wither they are happily gone before us. 

And how shall we do that?  In the old ritual of the church we find that on the cover of the canister wherein was the sacrament of His body, there was a star engraven, to shew us that now the star leads us thither, to His body there.  So what shall I say now, but according as St. John saith, and the star, and the wise men say ‘Come’ and let whosoever will take of the Bread of life which came down from heaven to Bethlehem, the house of bread.  Of which Bread the Church is this day the house, the true Bethlehem, and all the Bethlehem we have now left to come to for the Bread of Life—of that life which we hope for in heaven.  And this our nearest coming that here we can come, till we shall by another coming ‘Come’ unto him in his heavenly kingdom.  To which He grant we may come, that came to us in earth that we thereby might come to him and remain with him forever, Jesus Christ the Righteous. 

[Exerpt From the Fathers to the Churches - Daily Spiritual Readings. Edited by Brother Kenneth CGA, Collins 1983.]

Journey by Starlight
 by Jeanne Kun

A star rises in the silence of the night
and shatters the deep darkness of my heart's
loneliness and longing.

A star breaks away from the lowly horizon
and climbs into the heights
where its brightness sings forth in glory and in hope.

A star's shining song fills the dawn
and wakes my dull and sleeping spirit
and my blind eyes
with new light.

Set out upon the way, my soul, set out upon the way.
A Savior has been born for you.
Make haste and go and find him.

The journeying is long.
The way lies through wasted desert land,
yet grace is in the very seeking.
With each step the star's light
burns deeper into my heart
and fills me with its searing brightness
till all of me is aglow with its fire.

With each step my burdens and my poor, shoddy riches
are laid down by the wayside
as I press on toward the new life awaiting me
and approach with heart and hands
open wide to its embrace.

Yes, grace lies upon the edges of this long journey,
and time to prepare the heart.

The star leads onward to the Truth,
clothed not in the guise of kingly might and splendor
but in the frail, naked flesh of a newborn babe
wrapped in swaddling bands and lying in a manger
where God shares our poverty and weakness,
made like us in all but sin.

Look deeper as the star's light shines upon this Truth
and dispels the gloomy darkness.

Sink down and kneel.
Bow low before his presence there upon the hay.

Lay down your crown, O soul, alongside the wise men's there.
Lay down your pomp and power,
your privileges and pride and presumptions,
your own rights and righteousness.

Offer there your treasures at the manger:
Desire and dream purified to finest gold,
hopes and prayers raised and sacrificed
as fragrant frankincense,
griefs and pains and disappointments anointed
and laid to rest with myrrh's balm.

Let the Child take these poor treasures in hand
to make of them his playthings,
There to see the pleasure he takes in them,
There to await what he will make of them for you,
Far  better than your own doing.

And having offered my heart's gifts
and done him homage in silent adoration,
now I return to my own land.
But the star's light is my companion
and burns steadily within,
warming my stony coldness,
enlightening my vision,
and guiding my steps along the pilgrim's way
till I meet this Child again,
then throned and robed in full majesty and royal splendor
at his Father's side.

Copyright (c) 2006 by Jeanne Kun
Used with permission of author.

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