Lift Up Your Eyes… and See! A sermon for Epiphany!
Lift Up Your Eyes and See!
They are coming to you!
† I.H.S. †
May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ cause you to shine… as you reflect God’s love and glory into the darkest aspects of life!
- Epiphany is not a one-time event!
On January 6, the church throughout the world celebrated the feast of Epiphany.
Simply put, it is celebrating the recognition that the light of God’s glory entered the world, and the prophecy from Isaiah 60, read a few moments ago, was fulfilled.
My question for you is…
Before I ask it, I want you to know it will tell me a lot about this church, its trust in God, and its future.
It’s all on the line; everything depends on your answer to this question!
When was the prophecy of Epiphany fulfilled?
How many people think it was totally fulfilled when the caravan of wise men from the east showed up?
It’s a decent thought – but the answer is wrong…
If the church is to grow – it has to understand Epiphany better!
Good thing we can take care of this – this very morning!
Epiphany isn’t one day in history to be remembered and preached about once a year. It didn’t stop 2000 years ago when the crew loaded up the camels like a band packing up from a concert.
Epiphany is an ongoing, everyday celebration. The more you realize it, the more this church will grow, as the glory of God shines from this place, for God’s glory, reflected through your lives… will change this community. For Epiphany – the light of the glory of Christ – will draw people to Him.
You will see it as you grow in your awareness of His glory in your life.
- The Darkness
Isaiah gives a great idea of what life is like before the light of Christ shining forth from our lives,
He describes it as a “thick darkness covering the earth” and a “thick darkness covering the people.” The idea is the kind of darkness that sucks the air and all hope from you.
We have another name for that darkness – it is sin. The damage it does is brutal as it destroys everything, relationships, families, our sanity. Sin creates anxieties that aren’t normal – it causes us even to fear death.
In fact, many of us react pretty negatively when our particular sin is confronted when we are revealed to be in the darkness….
If you don’t think so, come on up, and we’ll take you through the ten commandments and see your reaction!
We don’t even need 10; listen carefully to these words from the Apology of the Augsburg Confession…
For, there is no law that accuses us more, that does more to make the conscience enraged against the judgment of God, than this summary of the whole law, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart.” For who among the saints other than Christ dares to boast of having satisfied this law?
I love how the reformed noted that – confronting our sin causes us to be enraged – as if God doesn’t have the right to confront us and bring us to healing. We react – How dare God show us that we don’t love Him more than everything else! Doesn’t he realize there are far worse sinners over there in Azusa, or maybe over there in LaVerne…
That shows how powerful sin is – theologically, we will all agree that we are sinners. But if we dare deal with sin… its darkness consumes us, just as it did prior to the beginning of Epiphany.
The change begins…
That consuming darkness is only brought up in the Old Testament to talk about the glory of the Lord shattering that light. Initially, this refers to Jesus, and the star focuses on Him, which guided the wise men to Him….
But it likewise is God’s light dawning in our lives, as we are drawn to Jesus.
For when the Lord is with you…… there is Christ, His glory, His love.
That is what I mean when I say Epiphany didn’t end when the last wise men departed. As long as Christ is Immanuel – as long as He is here, then the light of God’s glory illuminates our life.
So when scripture talked of Jesus, saying He will “see and be radiant, your heart shall thrill and exult,” it is talking about us as well!
Our eyes wide open! We are experiencing the multi-dimensional love of God, which is beyond all explanation – and the peace that comes from knowing you are loved and forgiven and welcome in the presence of God. In His presence where His glory makes everything brighter than the brightest day – where everything is cleansed and perfect – for that is why Jesus came, that is why He died and rose.
And people are still coming
There is one last thing to talk to you about this morning…
Scripture promises And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. 4 Lift up your eyes all around, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.
The Magi represented the nations, but this promise is for more than that – notice the children of God being gathered together. Sons and Daughters finally coming home from wherever they were, no matter how far off they had wandered.
There is your hope – dear people, it doesn’t matter how far people wander from God – the Spirit lights up the lives of the people of God as we resonate and reflect the love of Christ in which we dwell. God’s glory will illuminate their life, as the word of God is heard, as they are drawn to faith…as they are given hope.
Keep your eyes on Jesus, know you are loved, know God loves the people in your community… and let the hope of His love shine through you – a beacon to all the lost.
For you dwell in the peace of God, which is beyond all comprehension – and He guards your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. AMEN!
 Kolb, Robert, Timothy J. Wengert, and Charles P. Arand. 2000. The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.