5 Jan

Epiphany in the western Christian tradition, using the Gregorian calendar, is on 6 January. It is the climax of the Advent and Christmas season if you will. Advent starts four Sundays before Christmas and is a time for expectation and anticipation to prepare to celebrate the coming of Jesus the Christ. Christmas day begins the 12 days of Christmas, which ends on Epiphany and looks at the birth of Christ and the nativity. Epiphany is the celebration of the manifestation of Jesus the Christ that includes his birth, the visit of the magi or three wise men, his childhood up to Jesus’ baptism.

Epiphany comes from Greek and means to appear, manifestation, to show, to make known, to reveal, to see things as they are. Western Christians traditionally look at Epiphany as the revelation of Christ to the gentiles or all non-Jewish people. The magi or three wise men represent the gentiles who paid homage to Christ whereas King Herod the Great who represents the Jewish people sought to kill the Christ as found in Matthew 2: 1-12.

This morning in the spirit of Epiphany I want us to re-look at the need for studying the Bible as a means to show way, to make known the ways of God, and for us to truly see things as they are. “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4 NRSV

In the 1930s as Nazism descended on Germany a handful of Christians, who called themselves the “Confessing Church,” went out to bear witness to people in an environment where many churchgoers had been deceived by the Nazi propaganda. Through their reading/listening/studying the Biblical message, they were able to see Nazism for what it really was. So when people, even back 85 years ago, were saying that the Bible was an ancient book and played no relevance to current society and was no longer needed, these Christians were able to use the Scriptures to truly see how evil Nazism truly was.

Why should we today, in the beginning of January of 2015, want/need to study the Scriptures. I do not know about you, but I have many questions and there are loads of times that I do not truly see things as they really are. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him,” James 1: 5 NIV.

The Scriptures is a witness of God’s interaction with his creation as relayed to us through people who have witnessed it and wrote it down for our benefit and use. Unlike reading a novel or a history book, the Scriptures were written by man from their witness of the events and/or through the inspiration of God through the Holy Spirit. We do not make up our Christian faith as go through life. But it is rather tied to the Scriptures which speaks directly to us of real events, especially to the life and teachings of Jesus the Christ who taught us how to live, who was killed for us and more importantly rose from the dead so that we might have eternal life and be reconciled to God.

When we examine the lives of the Christians, especially those that have a close relationship to God, we find people that seriously spend time in the Scriptures through study and prayer. One Christian theologian describes the Scriptures as a pair of spectacles as they help us to see and understand what we otherwise could not see or understand. Through studying the Scriptures and engaging in daily prayer in a disciplined way, we experience God’s grace and wisdom in the midst of our daily life and personal struggles.

As Obi-Wan Kenobi told Luke Skywalker in Star Wars IV, A New Hope, “Your eyes can deceive you, don’t trust them.” We can be easily deceived if we try to rely on our own senses, our own knowledge. We can trust in the Scriptures and as we prayerfully study them God will open our eyes and our understanding so that we might truly see. And once we truly see we then can be as Phillip in Acts 8: 26 – 39 and help others to understand the Scriptures as well.


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