Friday, January 2, 2009

Thoughts on Epiphany

I work better with others so I thought I'd try typing out my thoughts while working on my sermon as if I were speaking them out loud to a fellow sermon writer sitting across the table from me at the library... or more likely, Panera.

Scripture: Isaiah 60:1-6; Matthew 2:1-12
Working Title: Gift Exchange

- Have you subscribed yet to Feasting on the Word, Barbara Brown Taylor and David L. Bartlett's commentary? It breaks every passage down into the Theological, Pastoral, Exegetical, and Homiletical Perspective. And more importantly, it has made me look BRILLIANT in the pulpit every week since receiving it.

- Epiphany miracle = magi asking Herod where the (real) King is... and they weren't killed on the spot.

- The gifts presented really miss the baby shower mark. Did Mary scan the wrong items at Target?

- Once you meet Christ, you can no longer walk the same road back.

- We 'miss' the real Epiphany moment that these magi had because we hear the Hebrew Scriptures with the correct timing as we walk through the Advent and Christmas seasons. These men realized it in their own 'a-ha' moment (thank you Oprah) - the prophecies of the Messiah had become a reality.

- Interesting that Matthew - the Jew that believes his own people have missed the point - would take such painstaking care to describe the story of how outsiders opened their hearts and minds and followed the signs to find - and bow down to - the Christ.

- The hymn breaks down the gifts the magi bring, but the real gift is their recognition of who the toddler before them is.

- What do we do with the gift that for many in our pews has simply been handed to them, no excruciating journey necessary? Do we exchange it for other things/values that make us feel better? That don't challenge us as much? Do we keep the gift wrapped because it is easier to assume we control it that way?

- God is determined to be found.

Focus: "Lift up your eyes and look around" - This Gift is for you.
Function: Encourage folks to embrace The Gift and allow The Gift - the light, the love - to change them.


Songbird said...

Nice. Not quite the same as meeting you at Panera, though.

Kathrynzj said...

I should add - or confirm - that these are just my own ramblings. Some will make it into the sermon, most won't.

I am thinking about using the 3 inner verses of We Three Kings to help move the sermon along. How many of us on Christmas/Epiphany sing the verse about myrrh and then stop.

mibi52 said...

Great stuff, and I love the "Feasting on the Word" series myself. Re Matthew: I'm writing a thesis on the shift of Jesus' own view of his mission (only the lost sheep of Israel in the initial commisioning, then the whole world in ch 28)- the Magi, as the outsiders who come looking for the king, do seem to be a precursor of Jesus himself broadening his understanding of his own mission. Put that with the Canaanite woman in ch 15, and you've got a clear arc of the missional shift. Fascinating train of thought, with all sorts of lovely references to Second Isaiah...and I can go down those kinds of rabbit holes for miles before I extricate myself!

Re the real gift from the magi - heck of a gift, that brings the death of all the other Jewish baby boys, and means Mary and Jospeh and Jesus have to go to Egypt to can be mixed blessings.

One of my favorite things in the whole world is when I do lectio divina on a text I'm going to preach on with my spiritual director. I guess I'm going to have to find a compatible lectionary group once I'm out in the real world. Can I come meet with you at Panera?

Trust me. Your sermon is gonna preach.

Songbird said...

Oh, I had that thought (about the hymn) the other day on the plane! Thanks for reminding me! I discovered during the Live Nativity that my oldest remembers all the words to all the verses, which I found odd and wonderful.

Kathrynzj said...

Wow, mibi - that is QUITE the rabbit hole and at least a 20 page sermon :)

My challenge right now is I am stuck a bit at myrrh (and I started there) and so I am trying to balance whether to give them a touch of Easter to reprieve them from the dark or do I leave it there and let them search for the light themselves.

Serious thoughts from one who is eating a poptart!

karlajean said...

serious thoughts from one who is eating a poptart...ahhh, lol.

love your ramblings and you are the first person I have heard mention the feasting the word series, which I have been interested in, but waiting. I am going to see if my expense fund can float it!

Kathrynzj said...

kj - I LOVE it for many reasons but one is that it seems to include a lot of poetry and other literature references that make the finished product sermon far richer (imho).

Also there is a VAST variety of contributors so there is no sense of maybe one or two particular soap boxes being proclaimed throughout the commentary. Very diverse.

Diane said...

I just got the Feasting book and have just used it twice. I usually don't end up liking books of this sort, but I LOVE this one so far. Glad to hear you are liking it.

also like your focus and function, especially function -- let the gift change them/us.

Kathrynzj said...

Thanks Diane, I liked the function too and now realize that my 1st draft falls short of it.


Time to shower, then I will come back... but at least at this point, it's preachable.

Rev Kim said...

Great thoughts. Makes me wish I was doing epiphany tomorrow!

"Feasting" has made me look brilliant too. I love that the four perspectives are offered, so depending on whether I'm in a more "theological" mood or a more "pastoral mood" there is much grist. My preaching prof is one of the contributors for the homiletical perspective every now again, another plus.

mibi52 said... how did it go?

Kathrynzj said...

It went well. Not an 'A' but a solid 'B". I think further pushing on the magi's willingness/need to change directions once they had met God Incarnate would have strengthened it, but I had so much trouble with that segue I eventually pulled it out of the final draft.

I'll put up an excerpt.

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