“A Visit From The Wise Guys”

January 7, 2018: May God’s words alone be spoken, may God’s words alone be heard.  Amen.

Today we celebrate Epiphany.  The feast of the Epiphany is Janurary 6th, so we are celebrating it today.  And it is this feast day that ends our Christmastide – our twelve days of Christmas.  So, as I said last year, if your spouse or your friends are giving you a hard time about still having the tree up, you can tell them that you are just being a good Christian, and doing what the church does, so there! 

Every year we tell the story of the Magi who travel from the East to bring gifts to the Christ child, and it is good to remember where we got this story of the three wise guys.  Matthew, the only gospel account of this story, never tells us how many there were. But since Matthew mentions three gifts, later Christian tradition came to identify three kings (even though there is no mention of them being royalty either); and in the late sixth century Armenian Infancy Gospel, the Magi are even given names-Melkon or Melchior, Balthasar, and Gaspar. But just as we don’t really know the names of the people who wrote the gospels, we also don’t know the names of these folks.  So, I like to sometimes call them the three wise guys – Larry, Mo, and Curly. 

It took them awhile to get there too, but most folks have these sages in their mangers.  Yet, as we hear today, Jesus was not a baby anymore, but a child, and living in a house.  So, not so wise, right?  I mean, why not pull over at the next Camel refilling station to get some directions, but nooooooo….

  Well, even if they were late, and brought really weird gifts to a young child, each year we like to tell the story of their visit…

Loud Knock Heard From The Back

Ceremonial Music Plays As King Approaches

King 1 presents Mother Diana with gift.

Mother Diana opens the box, inside is a pair of binoculars, and a scroll. 

Mother Diana reads the scroll aloud

To understand this gift, I must tell you a story: “One night a wealthy king, who was always striving to be spiritually wealthy too, was roused from sleep by a fearful stumping on the roof above his bed. Alarmed, he shouted: ‘Who’s there?’

‘A friend,’ came the reply from the roof. ‘I’ve lost my camel.’ Perturbed by such stupidity, the king screamed:

‘You fool! Are you looking for a camel on the roof?’

‘You fool!’ the voice from the roof answered. ‘Are you looking for God in silk clothing, and lying on a golden bed?’  

We had a star to guide us, and did not need such things as these binoculars to see where we needed to go.  When we arrived, God was as plain to see, right in front of us.

The truth is Jesus was born that we might know the God who is everywhere right in front of our eyes, if only we bother to look.  Where are you looking for God?

Mother Diana rolls up the scroll and says,

“…what an interesting gift, thank you great sage!  Now, as I was saying…”

Ceremonial Music Plays As King Approaches

King 2 presents Mother Diana with gift.

Mother Diana opens the box, inside is a cat tunnel, and a scroll. 

Mother Diana reads the scroll aloud

We had a long way to travel, and it was not always an easy journey.  There was many a dark and cold night along the way.  Yet, we knew that if we followed His light, we would always find our way.

When Herod tried to lead us into darkness, we took a different path.

The truth is no matter how difficult or dark the journey we are on may seem, there is always another way, always an opening out of darkness you just have to trust the Spirit to lead you, and follow the light.

Mother Diana rolls up the scroll and says,

“…thank you great sage for this most insightful, and kind of fun,  gift.”

Ceremonial Music Plays As King Approaches

King 2 presents Mother Diana with gift.

Mother Diana opens the box, inside is a cookie tin, and a scroll. 

Mother Diana reads the scroll aloud

Yes, we brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh symbols of who Christ is: King, God, and Sacrifice.  Perhaps they werent practical gifts, but hey…its the thought that counts, right? 

Today gifts are exchanged, like this decorative tin filled with Christmas cookies.  It is a symbol of the way in which we share ourselves with one another giving gifts are a sign of relationship, being willing to receive them can be a sign of humility and gratitude.  And this gift is meant to be shared with others, is it not?

God wanted to be in relationship with us enough to become flesh and dwell among us just that we might know how deeply we are loved.

The truth is We have received this greatest of gifts from God, and it too is meant to be shared.   

Mother Diana rolls up the scroll and continues the sermon


Binoculars, a tunnel, and a tin filled with Christmas cookies…these Magi have given us something to really think about, haven’t they?  I think I need a cookie to really consider it all…

One of the things that they have reminded us is that from the moment we are born, we begin a journey that will take us to all sorts of places – emotionally & physically.  There will be times when the going seems so very clear, as it was for these Magi.  There will also be times when it will feel like we are walking through a tunnel – when things seem so very dark, with no way out. 

But as this tunnel, and the Magi, made clear…there is always at least one other way to go, always a path to light…we just have to allow ourselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit – to be open to the possibility – to see what may be right in front of us.

Which brings up the question one Magi asked…where are we looking?  Where are we looking for God?  Or, are we even trying?  The Magi were right – we don’t need binoculars, or for that matter, even a star, to find God.  God is found in relationship – that is why God became incarnate – to be in relationship with us, and…to show us that it is in relationship with one another, that we continually find the God who was, and is, an is to come. 

To find God, we need only look for the Christ in the other – the lonely neighbor, the homeless veteran, the gay teenager – everyone, everywhere, will show us the face of God if we open our eyes to see…and to love.

Offering tins of cookies may not be the best way to love others, but the love God calls us to does begin with similarly simple ways – a phone call, a warm embrace, providing food and shelter…or really – just seeing them.  One of the reasons we may find it hard to see God, to see Jesus as the Magi did, is that we are not all that good at seeing, really seeing, one another. 

The Magi went on a long journey to encounter Christ, but we don’t have to travel at all to have the same experience.  We need only look at the people we encounter, and in the mirror, to see the Christ within ourselves, and all around us.  What we do with that incredible knowledge of love, this greatest gift ever given, will make all the difference in our own journey through life.  This is a gift that is meant to be shared.  We were never meant to hoard it, or exclude others from it.  Think of it this way – the gift of God’s love – given to us in Jesus – is the one gift that is expected to be re-gifted!   

The gift of the Magi is the gift of Epiphany – the awakening to the Christ that is revealed to us in so many ways each and every day.  We may never see a wondrous star shining brightly in the heavens, but we can see the light of Christ shining brightly in the eyes of the poor, the marginalized, the stranger…and, in the mirror too – if only we pause for a moment and look. 

The greatest gift of Christmas appears to us in Epiphany, which is what the Greek word ἐπιφάνεια means, appearing.  And it is this – that Jesus is born, not only in a manger so long ago, but in each of us.  Just as he did not stay there, but brought his light out into the world, so too are we not to leave his light behind at Christmas, or even in this church.

Last year, I shared with you a quote by Michael Dougherty, and I think it needs to be heard every time we reach the end of Christmas.  It reads: “When the carols have been stilled, when the star-topped tree is taken down, when family and friends are gone home, when we are back to our schedules, the work of Christmas begins…to welcome the refugee, to heal a broken planet, to feed the hungry, to build bridges of trust, not walls of fear, to share our gifts, to seek justice and peace for all people, to bring Christ’s light to the world.”

May we, like the magi, be willing to follow where God leads us, trusting that there is always another path to take that will lead us out of darkness into light – His light.  May we know that we need no star, or binoculars, or special training, or anything other than an open heart to see the God who yearns to love us – wants so much to be in relationship with us.  And most especially, that once we receive the gift of Christmas, the Christ child, in our hearts, that we do the work of Christmas and share that light with the world.  Because it is we, not the magi, who are now meant to reveal Christ to a world who hungers for God’s love. 

Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
Christmas isn’t over…it’s only just begun.


Based upon a concept by the Rev. Phillip Dana Wilson – Used with permission.

Unfortunately, no audio for this sermon is available, due to technical difficulties.  

Rev. Diana L. Wilcox
Christ Church in Bloomfield & Glen Ridge
January 7, 2018
The First Sunday After The Epiphany (The Feast of the Epiphany – Transferred)
1st Reading – Isaiah 60:1-6
Psalm 72:1-7,10-14
2nd Reading – Ephesians 3:1-12
Gospel – Matthew 2:1-12