The King of Kings

Week of January 8, 2017

The wise and the learned still seek Him.  The gifts that we share are only a reflection of the great gift He will give the world.  On this Feast many traditions come alive.  The silhouettes of the Magi riding camels fill the imagination of artists. Some have not only named the astrologers but also their camels.  This is the great Feast for many cultures and their gifts are exchanged on this day. These traditions speak of the appetite of the faithful to make present the mystery of God’s love and make it real.  We break into stories to emphasize an aspect of the mystery of which we can relate.  For some it is the story of a dancing star.  For others it is what the travelers encountered on their way or when they experienced the Christ Child.  I have always loved the reflections and the stories.

For me, it is in the journey and travel of the kings.  Something caught their eye to cause them to begin the trip.  That is the first dimension of the Epiphany experience.  What catches our eye?  What challenges us to take immediate action?  There are many sights and sounds of the season. Which ones capture our heart?  Follow those.  It was something they saw that brought out such a hunger that they were led to make a move. We must find these things in our lives. We must allow them to lead us.  For me, it is found in the hunger of the Eucharist.  What gets me up in the morning is the gift of God’s real presence, holy and undeniable. It is what leads me.

The second dimension of the Epiphany experience is the journey itself.  It is a never-ending quest.  It is one that we experience, yet never can control.  When we plateau is when complacency has power.  Security and comfort are temptations.  I once heard “Jesus came to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”   Is our journey bringing us uneasiness?  Can we enter a journey that is uncertain?  It is contrary to what society calls a vacation or trip.  It is in un-planning and staying open that we absorb what we are meant to see on the journey.  I learn this aspect of the journey on the golf course.  Every shot leads me to a different spot on the course; it leads me to some places I would choose not to see, like in the sand or under a tree.  But is where I am led and I have to assess the new situation, make the best of it and go from there.  I can travel down the same course over and over again and never land in the same place.  A new look, a new view awaits me.  It is one of the precious gifts I have learned on the golf course.  Can we embrace a journey where we are led and not doing the driving?  Can we travel without being in control? The Holy Spirit inspires me; I try to get out of my own way.  Living in the Holy Spirit has to be a part of this journey

The last dimension of the Epiphany experience is the gift we treasure and bring with us.  In the story each king brought one gift, a symbol of their royalty.  We each are the bearers of that one gift.  What is the gift we bring?  So often we think of the gifts we bring as a multitude of grace filled blessings.  We long to fill ourselves with the thought that the more we bring, the better it is.  Each king travels having less with them than when they started.  By the time they encounter Jesus they just have one.  What baggage do we need to lose?  What is the most precious gift we possess?   I believe that as the journey continues over the miles of our lives, our gift is purified. What I thought my gift to God was in my thirties has changed over the years.  The same may be true for all of you.  After marriage and the gift of a child entering the world, life changes, priorities change, and the gift changes.  My life changed when I was ordained.  What was before is no longer.  As time prevails on our Epiphany journey, it comes down to the most sacred of gifts we bring Christ, it is the love we have learned on earth, the openness to the sacred and holy, and the way we gifted others with what we have.

What does the King of Kings offer us? It is also one gift, the most precious gift of all, Eternal Life.

Reverend John J. Ouper