I lived in Memphis, Tennessee for several years. There were two dates that, as a resident, I dreaded. One was August 16, and the other was January 8. For those of you who are not Elvis Presley fans, the August date was his death and today is his birthdate. Had he lived, Elvis would be 85 years old. In Memphis, many fans have celebrated his life and legacy as if he is still with us.
Graceland, Elvis’ mansion, is located in a suburb called Whitehaven. There are special events that are held on these two days which invite people to gather and share the ways Elvis influenced and still influences their lives. There have been at least 3 generations born since Elvis died. His impact and influence on the Memphis culture are just as strong today as they were when he was alive.
But Elvis is not the king I want to talk about. Monday was Epiphany. Jesus was visited by three Wise Men who traveled from afar to see the child and bring him gifts that were worthy of royalty. Much of their story is unknown. Their countries of origin, whether or not they were royalty or advisors to monarchs, their names, and when and where they met one another on the road are not included in this wonderful story.
And yet, they were the first Gentiles who worshiped the King of Kings. I can’t help but wonder at how their excitement grew as the star they followed became brighter and brighter each night. What was it like when they reached their destination, and saw little Jesus? Did they possibly host a party? Did they invite Mary and Joseph to a special meal or did Mary and Joseph offer to share what they had? And when they returned to their nations, what kind of stories did they tell? How did they describe finding Jesus, not in a palace, but in a regular house? What did they say about Mary and Joseph? Did they even mention their time with King Herod? Did they wonder why he didn’t journey with them to behold the newborn King?
Whether you have already preached on the significance of the Epiphany or plan to use it as the foundation for a series; I encourage and invite each faith community to see this spectacular and amazing event through the eyes of the Magi. God came, in the form of a child, to be one of us and declare God’s love for each of us. Jesus’ presence among us is our Lord’s fulfilled promise for our salvation. Our Savior is the bright shining star in our lives. Jesus is our hope and our joy. As the new year begins, may we celebrate God’s love for all of us. And Amen.