Unfolding the Covenant of God’s Joy

January 5, 2020

On this feast of the Epiphany of the Lord, we realize there is a draw to this Christ child.  Everyone wants to welcome Him, everyone wants to say Hi, and everyone wants to present themselves to Him.  It is in this joy that we realize His star was seen at its rising and we are told of how great travelers from a far off place came to brings gifts.  The journey of the kings, the astrologers, the magi has been one of the cherished stories of the Christmas season.  Underneath many trees and on many tabletops are crib sets which depict the striking kings arrival.  In our house growing up there were many nativity scenes.  At some point my parents purchased some from different cultures and expressions and would put them in the various rooms of the house.  In the dining room was one from the Native Americans of the southwest.  The stable was a tepee and the figures were in traditional garb.  Next to it was the one made of olive wood from Jerusalem which they purchased when we traveled there together. Under the tree was the oldest set, a scene in which my dad made the stable and the figures came from Woolworth’s.  Each expression was unique; each crossed the lines of culture to tell a story of love and joy.

Usually, I put out either a nativity scene from Africa I purchased on one of my visits, or a Dept. 57 rendition which is quite unique.  This year, I went a different route.  I put out three different African expressions, wood carved from mahogany.  Each depicts the Holy Family in a way that speaks to the country of the carver.  Each rendition of the kings is different; some wear crowns, others do not.  In the middle of these three sets I placed the angel of peace.  Beyond the culture, beyond the origin of the carvings, a story is told; a story of recognition and acceptance, a story of joy and love.  The angel of peace is a reminder for me.  While everyone is expressing differently, peace must reign in the center.  Peace must prevail as we strive to come together, as we strive to get along.

The kings always fascinated my imagination.  I think what captivated me was their travel, their journey and their persistence to find the Lord.  This year the Lord invites us to unfold our own journey and find the joy and love expressed in a Savior who is for all peoples, with no discrimination.

May we arrive at the Christ child and find the peace that can change the world.

Reverend  John J. Ouper