Note: Services were cancelled due to weather concerns, but the Epiphany sermon would have sounded something like this.
Epiphany is the celebration of finding something worth finding. It follows Christmastide on January 6th (back when December 25th was the beginning of the 12 Days of Christmas instead of the final day of 3 months of Christmas).
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. -Matthew 2:1-12 ESV via Bible Gateway
If you’ve ever heard someone say “I’ve had an epiphany” what they probably mean is they have just realized something. A true epiphany is more of a discovery than coming to a realization. We know from the Matthew 2 text that the wise men made a long journey. They were more likely from Persia than the Orient but I won’t get into all the many things we don’t know about them right now. We do know they were wise, journeyed from afar, brought precious gifts and obeyed the Word of the Lord. When they saw Jesus and his mother they fell down and worshipped. They were led to an even more valuable treasure than anything they had brought with them.
Jesus would later talk about seeking treasure in a series of parables. When the woman with 10 coins lost one (Luke 15:8-10) she lit a lamp and swept her entire house, and called on her friends to rejoice with her when she found it. When a man found a treasure in a field (Matthew 13:44) he sold all that he had so he could buy that field, much like collector of pearls who sold all his others so that could purchase the pearl of great price. (Matthew 13:45-46)
Neither the magi nor the examples in Jesus’ parables accidentally stumbled onto something. They sought diligently for the treasure they eventually found. They worked hard, devoted time and effort and sacrificed possessions of lesser value. No one accidentally pursues righteousness. You might drive around aimlessly and find a nice farmer’s market or antique store, but no one wanders into the Kingdom of God. We must be deliberate and intentional on life’s journey. It may require a little effort and sacrifice. But what we find will far surpass anything we give up.