Sermon preached by Fr John Pritchard
on Sunday 7th January 2018 (The Epiphany)
Isaiah 60.1–6; Psalm 72.10–15; Ephesians 3.1–12; Matthew 2.1–12
Dear friends, we have just seen the symbolic presentation of the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh given to the infant Jesus who lies in our nativity scene. I want to encourage you as you leave today to take with you to your homes the chalk which will be blessed at the end of Mass so that the gift of God’s blessing might be upon your homes over your front door as you come and go. You will see instructions inside the front cover of your order of service as to how you must use the chalk.
Today is about receiving knowledge, hope, God’s blessing, and a perspective that God is for all people and not only a select part of our global community. The Magi who now adorn the crib remind us as they honoured the infant king with their gifts, that the King they honour wants to remind us that we are honoured by his gift – a gift of life, of his life.
Over the past couple of weeks, most of us have given gifts to one another: and as we have given, so we have seen our bank balances diminish.
But the gift of Christ, and the giving of himself to the world, reminds us that God is not at all diminished by his offering of himself to us, because as most of us have hopefully experienced once in our lives, the offering of love increases us, it does not take away from us our core identity but increases us. Loving does not diminish us, and when we love, we give everything of ourselves into that encounter with another human and great things often come forth.
Today as the Magi offer precious gifts, God goes one step, one dramatic step further and offers himself to the world, in fact he gives everything that he is and that he will be to Orlan; and to each of us that we too might know his nature and take that nature upon ourselves. The overflowing of love between a couple has given this world a gift, a child. And though mum and dad might be sleep-deprived, Orlan is, as all life is, a blessing for us to behold and welcome.
Over the Christmas season we might have thrown gifts at people, as the Magi offered gifts – that is the human way – but the way of God is to gift himself to us, through baptism, through our communion – wholly and entirely giving himself to us that we might know him in his love.
Today Orlan’s life becomes greater by receiving the gift of baptism, the gift of God’s blessing, and our lives increase by being in relationship with this little one, as does our responsibility. Let us rejoice, give thanks, and mark upon the entrances of our homes the 20 + Caspar + Melchior + Balthazar + 18, so that the world knows that we are, all of us, in receipt of God’s blessing, by his presence with us, as are they who pass by.