Sermon for January 2, 2022  Epiphany         “What can I bring Him?”

What are your New Year Resolutions? That has been the question of the past week. So we are now into day two of the new year…and how are you doing so far? What I have noticed this year is not so much a desire to make a new year’s resolution but a wish that things would go back to normal or at least something that might resemble normal. It seems that COVID has plenty more to say before we can contemplate that new normal we dream of!

A look at the Epiphany story may offer some insight for our present days. There was not much that was normal about the birth and events surrounding the birth of Jesus. The arrival of the Magi was just another of a litany of ‘not normal’ events. The Magi did not waver from their knowing that the star would lead them to a king. The fact they encounter a baby in a cattle shed did not seem to faze them. That they brought gifts for an adult king also did not deter them from their belief. And true to form, they heeded the counsel of angels and returned home via another route. Is it any wonder that Mary pondered and treasured these things in her heart! And I wonder what she might have said if she had spoken out loud?

The angel messengers again spoke to Mary and Joseph and they fled to Egypt for about a decade. From the get go there was nothing normal, nothing that was familiar and everything was about being attentive to the voice of God… And we wonder if normal will ever return!

As I reflect back on all the changes we have had to make as a church family I wonder if, as an unintended consequence, God is nudging us out of our comfortable pews? Now let me back up a bit to the time of Jesus. Almost everything Jesus did and said was outside the Temple. It is not that Temple and worship were not important to Jesus but he did see a rigidness there, factions holding tightly to one orthodoxy or another, little communicating and when change was hinted a return to severe interpretation of the law. In that setting there was no room for the breath of fresh air Jesus was offering in his teachings. So at weddings, on a hillside in Galilee, in orchards, the outskirts of town and places that ‘respectable’ people would not be seen, Jesus performed miracles, feed the people, offered hope and changed hearts.

Churches around the world have been forced to think of ministry without a building and we are making it work. Ministry is happening intentionally when we show up (physically distanced of course), when we call neighbours, deliver food, pray and are the un-noticed miracle of someone’s day.

In person worship is not going to vanish but I think it will become more a retelling of how we have made a difference in our community, a hearing of the teachings that sustain us and a place of support and care for the gathered community. It will become a place where we explore how God’s spirit nudges ours and how we can nurture our spiritual growth.

So what can I bring to the virtual table? Bring open hearts and minds, bring all the ministries you do each day, bring what you think is your little bit and see what Jesus can do. I read this week that a butterfly cannot see its own wings, it must be told they are beautiful and then believe. So let me say to you, in case you cannot see…you are beautiful. Like the disciples we may think a few fish and loaves of bread are meagre offering but we are not called to feed the 5000, we are called to offer what we have to Jesus.