Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12
Text: Reginald Heber (1783-1826). Tune: James P. Harding (1850-1911)
1. Brightest and best of the stars of the morning, Dawn on our darkness, and lend us thine aid; Star of the east, the horizon adorning, Guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.
2. Cold on his cradle the dew-drops are shining; Low lies his head with the beasts of the stall; Angels adore him in slumber reclining, Maker and Monarch and Savior of all.
3. Say, shall we yield him, in costly devotion, Odors of Edom, and offerings divine, Gems of the mountain, and pearls of the ocean, Myrrh from the forest, or gold from the mine?
4. Vainly we offer each ample oblation, Vainly with gifts would his favour secure: Richer by far is the heart's adoration, Dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.
5. Brightest and best of the stars of the morning, Dawn on our darkness, and lend us thine aid; Star of the east, the horizon adorning, Guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.
MORNING LIGHT IS BREAKING
Text: Gracia Grindal Tune: Iteke Prins
1. Morning light is breaking
Over fields of night.
Earth is slowly waking
To a dazzling light.
2. Sunlight gleams and dances
Through the window panes
As the radiance glances
In our hearts again.
3. Rainbow hues are playing
In the brilliant air,
Dazzling us and saying
Jesus Christ is here!
4. There, despite the danger,
All we know of God
Lies there in a manger,
God in flesh and blood.
5. Shining down through history
With its many hues,
We behold the mystery
Gleaming with good news.
6. Christ, our jewel and pleasure,
Born in Bethlehem’s fields
Is our radiant treasure:
God’s great love revealed!
Text © Copyright 2012 by Wayne Leupold Editions, Inc.
Epiphany is when we see God revealed in flesh. We speak of having epiphanies—that is moments when we see something we had not seen at first glance. That sense that there is something more in what we are experiencing than what we see is really a sense for the holy. Faith is what gives us the vision for that reality.
Only faith could see in the manger where Jesus lay that here was the God of the universe. But something always points to it. The angels helped the Shepherds see something was going on, that another dimension had broken into their world on that night of nights. The wisemen had the Star. The church has had John the Baptist who pointed to Christ even while still in his mother's womb. And his followers, the preachers and witnesses in our lives, urge us to gaze on our Lord in the manger, on the cross, or resurrected.
The old saw that seeing is believing is not quite true for Christians. We often look askance at something and do not see its real significance. In the faith, hearing is believing. Hearing goes deeper, into our flesh, sight sees surfaces. After we have been told what is there, then we can see what we did not see at first.
The Selma Lagerlöf legend of the shepherd not being able to see the thousands of angels attending the birth of the poor boy in the cave until he responded in mercy is an example of that. Christians believe that when they are drawn to hear the good news which lives in the Word of God—Jesus, the Gospel and in what is spoken by others—faith is engendered. Which is why we go to church or hang out with other Christians. Their words of faith break into our reality and give birth to faith. No wonder this has been a hard time for believers—not to be in the presence of those who can strengthen our faith with testimonies that point to Jesus.
The Wisemen knew from their studies that the Star was pointing to something they wanted to find. Something—their curiosity, piqued by the Spirit—urged them to travel over the miles to see this thing that had happened, something they knew they had to find. Something in their books and in their words to each other drew them toward the Lord.
When they reached Jerusalem and went to consult with Herod and the scribes, they heard more of who Jesus was and hurried to find him. When they found him they knelt down in worship and gave him gifts. Once again, what they saw could hardly have made them think here was the God of all things. But their faith gave them the vision to see the child was God. So they worshiped. And returned to their homes utterly changed.
Luther said that in Jesus we can see all we need to see or can see of God. We cannot see that without faith. By faith, the Magi knelt down and worshipped. And gave him of their treasures. Likewise we are drawn to the manger to see this poor child who is our God. All we can give, and all he wants, is our heart’s adoration.
Heber, the author of "Holy, Holy, Holy," wrote this Epiphany hymn when he was still quite young. He was a gifted student and poet from the first. His concern for the cause of mission, a growing interest in England when he was young, drew him to India where he served as Bishop of Calcutta for a few years. He fell in love with India and its people, but died unexpectedly in the extreme heat after a cold bath. Epiphany is also the time of mission festivals and mission interest because we are called to tell others about Jesus and point to him as the Son of God.
I wrote my hymn contemplating both Luther’s saying and the notion of how the light is still pointing us to Christ.
Harmonious Chorale Ghana https://youtu.be/zLwAcjuHZ_w
St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys
BYU Male Chorus/singing with masks! To a Sacred Harp Tune
Tune for Morning Light is Breaking/Wem in Leidenstagen https://youtu.be/BY1PnL8dDio
Music: © Copyright 2014 Wayne Leupold Editions, Inc.
For permissions, go to this page.