Monday, January 6th was Epiphany. Some know it as the day to take down our Christmas trees because the 12 days of Christmas have passed. But we also know it as the day that Christ was made known to the Magi in Bethlehem. The story is found in Matthew, chapter 2. It’s interesting to me that the story of the Magi’s journey and visit to the Christ child is longer than the story of the Christ child’s birth, which tells me that Matthew thinks this story is important for us to hear and know. A key point in the story is worship.
In January, when the weather is cold and there are many temptations that would have us choose something else to do on Saturday night or Wednesday evening or a Sunday morning, we hear about Magi who traveled long distances, not in a car with the heat vent blowing in their faces, but instead experiencing the cold desert winds of the night traveling on the backs of animals, following a star without really knowing where it would lead them. They didn’t know if their journey would be hours, days or weeks. What they did know was that their purpose was to follow the star so that they could worship the child born king of the Jews. Their whole purpose in life at that moment and forever more was to worship this king, the Messiah.
Their purpose in life was not any different than ours is today; to worship. But do we live our purpose? There are many things we can worship and so this story gives us pause to determine who or what is the king of our lives; the king above anything or anyone else. Our worship can be given to money, to our family, to our child and grandchild; it can be directed to material possessions, to sports or those who play them, to music, or a million other things I didn’t mention. Our identity as a beloved child of God makes our purpose clear. We worship the One who gives us life and purpose.
Shortly after Jesus’ baptism, the Spirit led Jesus up into the wilderness where he was tempted by the devil. The third temptation was for power. The devil took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world. Satan said, “I will give you all the kingdoms of the world if you will fall down and worship me.” But Jesus responded “Away with you Satan! for it is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.” Then the devil left him. (Matthew 4: 8-11) Jesus saw the temptation and stood up against it.
The Magi also faced temptation as Herod wanted them to return and tell him where this child could be found so he could go and worship him. Through a dream they were warned not to return to Herod but to go to back to their country by another road. They listened to these instructions. When they arrived at the house and saw the Christ child with Mary his mother, they humbled themselves and worshipped him. They worshipped as we do because the One who is Love, the One who is came to be “God with Us,” the One who will not leave us, is laying there right before them. They worship him as a response of thankfulness and joy for what God has done.
We don’t worship to get God to like us, or to get points with God for going to church. Each of us already has God’s love. Because of that love, God continues to work in us and transform us into the people he wants us to be. People who through the work of the Spirit share God’s love with a troubled world.
As we begin a new calendar year and make New Years resolutions, if worship is not a part of your weekly faith discipline I invite you to come; come and worship the one God who our ancestors from the beginning of time worshipped. Come and worship as the Magi did at the birth of the Savior, come and worship God with others in worship. Let us humble ourselves and listen and watch as Christ comes to us through the scriptures, through the Word spoken; through the Spirit in water poured in baptism, through bread and wine revealing our crucified Lord. Come and worship with others on their faith journey. Together the journey is more complete as we see God at work through the Spirit in each of us. Come and worship! It is your purpose to praise the awe and wonder of our great God who came to be with us forever.
Pastor Pam Schroeder