In describing your life, I can save you a lot of time. Life is summarized with two “S” words: surprises and setbacks. There you have it.
Thank you for listening. Now for tonight’s sermon.
For non-believers, it’s the light of spring and budding stuff surrounding them, followed by the richness of summer’s heat and its frolicking. (I don’t know who frolics anymore, but it sounds like fun.) Ummmm. Easy, simple, convenient, obvious and completely wrong.
For us, not-so-bright Christians? Where do we find the light? In the darkness. We see light when we, well, when we need light! This is what the Epiphany is all about. When said, “I had an epiphany,” it’s proclaimed to family and friends with great joy. (Notice I didn’t say the shallowness of “happiness” but the Divine “joy.”)
Light’s requested in the darkness of indecision, it’s felt in the darkness of doubt, light is experienced in those haunting questions either about life here or the life after here. Christians seek light in the darkness when light is most needed. How about the dark places of our lives that we refuse to admit and see? Or those dark places within us that we haven’t even uncovered yet?
Flashlight? Nay … needs batteries. Our own eyes looking inside ourselves? Nope. Too one-sided.
We need, no, but yes, we need it, but it’s that we seek the light that this day provides. A heavenly star that brought nations together, even if for a short time, to show that this light is universal and eternal.
That’s the surprises and setbacks that happened to Jesus Christ to model for us how to handle our two life “S’s.”
I hate it when a friend tells me, “You gotta see that Netflix film. It’s great. The hero is killed in the end.” Am I surprised? No! Because now I know the ending. Why waste two hours when I already know the ending?
That’s what happens with our prayers. (Please note the pronoun “our.”) Try praying without our provided answer to God. In giving a solution or resolution to God. If answered with your wish, you tell your friends for years to come about how your prayer was answered with your answer. (Please note the pronoun.) Surprise. Nada. (whispering) That’s called idolatry.
Pray always with the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit to buttress and support you; you will be enlightened with more insights and guidances than you can imagine.
Michael Kaminski retires today. I can’t wait to hear the closing song. (Or, is there a closing song?) Mike’s been here a few years, got bored, and now it’s time to move on. Next week, in his retirement, he’ll think, “Today’s Wednesday,” (whispering) when it’s really Thursday. In retirement, every day is Saturday. As believers in the light of this Christ, we celebrate and honor that every single day of the week is Sunday.
There are so many unexpected surprises during this beautiful journey of life. (“unexpected surprises” is redundant, but you get the meaning.) Coupled with life’s setbacks – full of troubles, trembles, and travails.
Epiphany shows us today that all is okay. Motel 6 spokesman Tom Bodett famously said, “We’ll leave the light on for you.”
Well, how about the story of our faith? Three kings (whose names we can never remember), a villainous governor (whose name we all know), two tired parents (we know them), an unnamed donkey with a map and magic marker yellowing directions to Egypt, shepherds (all without names) wondering if their sheep are still in the hills, angels (no names provided) looming all about…and only one bright lone star constantly shining through all of our darknesses of fears, doubts, uncertainties, and despairs. As well as life’s joys, successes, and peace. Always hoping that the latter outweighs the former. The song “Away in the manager?” Forget about it.
Apparently asleep but with a joyful smile on his face is this newborn babe full of surprises and setbacks for both himself and for us. He’s asking us to be “newborns” each day. (Even in the unknown but joyful time of retirement.)
What are their names? They are the Divine star of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit saying to us every Sunday (and those other misnamed days), “Our light is forever brightly lit and lovingly burning away for each and every one of you.”