Looking for something.
They were professional seekers.
When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.
An epiphany isn’t something you can find on a map.
It isn’t something you can order out of a catalog.
Webster’s Definitions are:
- an appearance or manifestation especially of a divine being
….. an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple
…...an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure
…...a revealing scene or moment
We have our individual epiphanies:
-The mountaintop moment that convinced us of God’s goodness,
-The day we knew we couldn’t keep drinking.
-The moment we knew who we wanted to spend the rest of our life with
-or what we were meant to do in response to a challenge.
There are also corporate, shared, epiphanies:
Like the company Johnson & Johnson’s reclaiming of their core values that led to their handling the 1982 Tylenol tampering with speed and responsibility. They KNEW what kind of ethical company they were meant to be, despite the hit to their financial bottom line that year by pulling product off the shelf.
THE Epiphany shared with us by the Wise Men was an encounter with God, the original and ultimate gift giver.
Today is a feast day. The table calls us to celebrate the 'shining forth' or revelation of God to mankind in human form, in the person of Jesus Christ.
Our Orthodox brothers and sisters call this the Feast of the Theophany.
The Irish call this day Little Christmas.
In Rome, "Epiphania" was transformed into Befana, the great fair held at that season, when sigillaria of terracotta or baked pastry were sold (Macrobius I, x, xxiv; II, xlix).
In Spain, Cuba and some Latin American countries Epiphany day is called El Día de Reyes [and] on this day, the Magi deliver Christmas presents.
Its not the first or last epiphany in human experience. In the early Eastern Christian church, the feast of Epiphany was seen as an extension of the Jewish festival of lights, Hanukah. But early leaders in the Western church thought both Epiphany and Christmas were distractions from the gospel. In the words of Clement of Alexandria, The first reference to Epiphany in the Latin West is a slighting remark by Clement of Alexandria in: "There are those, too, who over-curiously assign to the Birth of Our Saviour not only its year but its day…" 
When David’s Son Solomon was crowned the third king of Israel, the Psalmist prayed for a royal epiphany, give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king's son. Psalm 72:1. All the actions of the king’s reign would flow from this illuminated beginning of a king whose one request was for God to give him the gift of wisdom and whose people equated wisdom with justice:
To judge God’s people with righteousness. (72: 2)
To defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor. (72: 4)
After Jesus’ death, Saul the persecutor experienced a radical personal epiphany on the road to Damascus. He had a vision of the living Christ asking him one good question, “why do you persecute me?”
It turned him right around.
It redeemed him.
It turned him into the great church builder, Paul.
It started him on a path of illuminated living leading to an epiphany that would radically change the world: Christ’s love and transforming power are available to everyone. What began with the visit of the magi, gentile travelers who were among the first to recognize God’s gift to humanity, is sent out East, West, North, and South across humanity.
In his Christmas message, our Bishop, Sudasharna Devadhar, spoke of one of the great evangelists of the last century, Dr. E. Stanley Jones, who wrote:
"I thought my book “Mahatma Gandhi An Interpretation” was a failure. It did not seem to dent the Western world with its emphasis on armaments. But when I saw Dr. Martin Luther King, he said: 'It was your book on Gandhi that gave me my first inkling of nonviolent non-cooperation. Here, I said to myself, is the way for the Negro to achieve his freedom. We will turn this whole movement from violence to nonviolence. We will match our capacity to suffer against the other’s capacity to inflict the suffering, our soul force against his physical force; and we will wear our opponents down with goodwill.' 'Then my book was not a failure,' I replied. 'No, if we can keep the movement nonviolent,' he answered."  We often second guess our gifts and graces with questions such as, “Am I making a difference?” or “Am I effective?”
I treasure my own little first edition of this book. Its pretty beat up, which makes it less valuable in the world of rare books but all the more valuable to me. It means that it has passed through many hands who have shared the epiphany that God has another way for us to be in the world.
The Herod’s of the world are resistance to that epiphany. They defy illumination.
But those who are willing to take the gift that God has given them to bear for the world and offer it as they step toward the light of Christ, ARE illumination.
The person to your right bears a unique gift for the good of Christ’s body, the church. Each gift is necessary.
So look and wonder what gifts God sends today:
Look to your left
Look to your right.
Look in front of you
Godly living is unwrapping our gifts, discovering how they “work,” and using them to transform ourselves and the world.
What corporate epiphany does God have ready at hand for us?
For our church?
For our denomination?
For the Christian faith?
For our World?
We see readiness in people’s response to Pope Francis, in the readiness of millenials to take on world problems and solve them, with or with out us.
And we we sense resistance as well, in and around us.
The prayer center today is covered with prayer ribbons from our Advent Sundays. On them are candles representing our commitment to the Epiphany that is Jesus Christ. Come and receive the light from the center Christ candle, moving it to a votive that represents your commitment to walk ever closer to Christ’s light in your life. God awaits you in the welcoming silence. If you're worshiping at home, or on the road, take a minute to tend to your inner light, the grace space where God waits to meet you.
Prayer for after individual candle lighting time:
Prayer of the Day -Thom Shuman
We have heard
of your grace,
Shaper of stars;
from those set free
from our children
who whisper of your joy;
of dawn's fresh start;
from late risers
who listen to the stories
of the needy.
We have heard
of your Light,
Bright Star of the morning:
which can illumine
the shadows of our lives;
which can show
the path to God's heart;
which can point the way
to where we become
servants of the gospel.
We have heard
of your promised peace,
which can end war,
as well as heal our hearts;
which can conquer our fears,
and flood us with faith;
which can enter our lives
and overwhelm us with hope.
We have heard of you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
and will proclaim your glory to all,
even as we pray, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)
 Stromateis, I, xxi, 45
 (E. Stanley Jones, Song of Ascents, Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, pp. 259-60).