Thought for the weekend: The message of the Epiphany
Christmas is over. The Christmas Trees have been taken down. The Christmas lights and decorations have been put away for another year.
Just a few days ago, Christmas gave way to the Season of Epiphany - the showing forth of Jesus to the Gentiles. At the heart of Epiphany is the story of the Wise Men or Magi. They were not Jews. They didn't come from Israel. They came from somewhere in the East, maybe modern-day Iraq. But, they had heard about the birth of a Jewish child who was born for the salvation of Jew and Gentile alike.
In the New Testament we read: "On coming to the stable, the Wise Men saw the child and his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. They also opened their treasures and presented to him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh." In these actions, they recognised the infant Jesus as King, Holy one of God, and the one who will give his life to take away the sins of all mankind.
That is the message of Epiphany. Jesus was born a Jew, but from birth his commission was to reach out to everyone, and reveal to Jew and non-Jew alike the universal love of God.
In the 21st century, that is the brief of all followers of Jesus today - Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant, etc. Here in Northern Ireland, Epiphany tells us that Jesus is for all people.
In the Protestant community, people will remind themselves that the people on the Falls Road, in the Bogside, Dublin, and Killarney, have been created in God's image, and are those for whom Jesus came. Likewise, in the Roman Catholic community, people will remind themselves that the people on the Shankill Road, in Sandy Row, the Waterside and Enniskillen have been created in God's image, and are those for whom Jesus came.
An outstanding characteristic of the Wise Men was their focus and sense of purpose. They set out from the East. They followed the star. They reached their goal, They worshipped the baby. They gave their gifts. They fulfilled their purpose. They beheld the Light of the world. They were convinced that the Child of Bethlehem came for all mankind.
Let us today have that same sense of purpose and spread abroad in every place the good news that Jesus came to show his love for every person!