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Amy Denney
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Epiphany – The Second Christmas

Here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle
of two foolish children in a flat who unwisely 
sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house.
But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be
said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest.
Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest.
Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.


“The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry

The most well known of the Biblical Christmas Stories is the one in Luke. The one that we all acted in during our Sunday School days. Mary and Joseph in the stable in Bethlehem, the angels bringing Good News of Great Joy to the Shepherds, and then the shepherds coming to Bethlehem to see the new born Christ Child.

There is however, another story. It is not nearly as dramatic as “no room at the Inn”, but never the less powerful in its own way. It is Matthew’s story of the Magi. A group of seers from the east follow a star in order to find the new born king of the Jews. Amazingly, when they find the young child Jesus, they are so moved that they immediately fall down and worship, and then in response to the awe of the moment they offer up their gifts. There are no strings attached, the offering of gifts is in response to the profound holiness of the worship
experience.

It is this concept of selfless giving that William Sidney Porter (O. Henry) shares in the most famous of his short stories “The Gift of the Magi”. Della sells her golden hair in order to buy her beloved Jim a fob for his beautiful gold watch, and Jim sells his watch in order to buy exquisite tortoise shell combs for his wife’s amazing hair. O. Henry declares at the end of his short story the quote above. Even though Della
and Jim appear to be foolish, in reality they are modern Magi. They do sacrificial giving out of their profound love for each other.

That is the call of our Second Christmas – Epiphany. The Christmas Season is twelve days long (December 25 – January 5), then on January Sixth comes our Second Christmas – The Epiphany of Our Lord. It is on this day that the Church remembers the Magi of Matthew’s Gospel. It is as a result of Matthew’s Magi story that the concept of Christmas Gift giving comes. Gift giving that is meant not to impress, but comes out of profound awe at the experience of worshipping Christ.

The Festival of the Epiphany often gets lost in our culture as the major retailers are off and running towards Valentine’s Day. However, for us as Church, it is absolutely essential that we remember not only the shepherds of Luke coming to Bethlehem, but also the Magi of Matthew falling down in worship, and then their profound sense of gift giving. Because January Sixth  falls on Saturday in 2018, we will celebrate this important Festival at all three of our weekend worship services, Saturday, January 6, Sunday, January 7, and Monday, January 8.

As we celebrate the story of the Magi in 2018, let us remember O. Henry’s Della and Jim. May we also be the Magi.


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