Sunday January 6, 2019
4:00 pm - Saint Thomas Church
Preacher: Fr Moretz
The Great Eureka
Today is the Feast of the Epiphany, the holy day in our Church when we celebrate the revealing of Christ to the World. The manifestation of something, someone, that had been with us all along, who we now see face to face, eye to eye. Today is the Feast of the Great Eureka! Now for us, the primary sign of this Eureka is the coming of the Magi to the baby Jesus in the manger. These scholars from the east had read the scrolls of ancient prophecy in their libraries. These astrologists had interpreted the movements of the heavens above their foreign cities. Their experience in the world, and their study of it, had already given them a kind of pre-Epiphany. In fact, their long-prepared gifts displayed their prescience, for the gold implied royal importance, the incense implied a holy life, and the myrrh implied a holy death. They knew Christ in their minds and in their hearts. But their mission was to travel at great risk to see Christ with their own two eyes and do something for Christ in person with their own two hands.
But the Magi were honored in our readings this morning. This evening our Scripture readings bring out another aspect of the Feast of the Epiphany that we celebrate. Both the prophet Isaiah and Saint John the Divine are not focusing on the first days of Christ’s coming among us. They are foreseeing and proclaiming the ultimate day of Christ’s coming among us, when Christ’s presence will not just be in Bethlehem or Jerusalem, but when what that single life began is made complete and full.
Isaiah’s vision of this is so striking because at times he speaks about it as if it has already happened. His prophecy phases in and out between future and past tense. “The Lord hath comforted his people. He hath redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” It seems that God is the type to do something, and when done it is so cataclysmic that it not only affects the future, but it affects the past. For this is what God has done/will do, a revelation not just to three wise foreigners, but to every nation throughout the earth, to every society, to every tribe and people. Christ will become plain as day to all. But the truth is that Christ is already plain as day for those with eyes to see. So we find ourselves at Epiphany in a kind of already/not yet place, a time when we celebrate what has yet to happen.
Saint John the Divine celebrates with us, giving us his vantage point at the “last times,” after all is said and done. The “last times” are not the end of time, but the consequence of the fullness of the times. He marvels at how heaven and earth have merged. On the last day, there is no division between our reality and God’s reality. For example, John tells us that the kings of the earth have finally seen what real leadership is, what is real honor and real glory, free from the futile carousel of the Vanity Fair. They’ve bowed before the true throne of the true Monarch, Truth itself, in a realm where no lies can enter the gates. Not only is the Truth triumphant, but Truth is the light that illuminates everything, emanating from God at the center of the City of God. We don’t need a temple anymore. We don’t need a church. The entire city is holy ground. Our entire existence is now a prayer, an exchange with God in God’s fullness. And the power of God, the Light of God, does not come from something like a roaring Lion, the strength of the world, the Light comes from something like a slaughtered Lamb, the meek strength of God. The paradox of God’s true power is no longer surprising or confusing, it has been made manifest, it has been revealed, lies wither away before the Light of Truth which is now the power plant of the Twin Cities of God, Heaven and Earth. And today we celebrate what God has done for us. Or should I say, what God will do for us? Perhaps I don’t have to choose. Because when God does something, our past, present, and future are drawn up into that work.
Epiphany is the time to look upon the great scope of all that God has done and will do, and to lift up our voices in song with the Watchmen. We feast tonight because God’s truth and goodness will win out, and with the eyes of the prophets and the divines we are confirmed and strengthened in the awareness that God’s truth and goodness have already won out. We just have yet to see it in person. And let us always remember, it's not as if when Christ comes to rule that His victory will be like the victory of a political party over another, or one team over another, or the good guys over the bad guys. Like how Abraham was promised to be a blessing for every family and nation, Christ’s victory is always universal, always catholic and global, never partisan or parochial. Christ came for the sake of the whole world, for Us and for Them.
May we sing with joy with the Watchmen tonight for what has not yet but already been made manifest: that “The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.”