Father Jerry Adinolfi’s Ephiphany Sermon



W. H. Auden’s long poem, For the Time Being, written during the height of WWII, is a Christmas Oratorio intended for the bleak mid-Winter, post-Christmas malaise. The excitement of the holiday is past and now we get back to our daily lives made all the more dull by the holiday’s briefness.

–        To quote Auden, “Once again, as in previous years, we have seen the actual Vision and failed to do more than entertain it as an agreeable possibility; once again we have sent Him away, begging though to remain His disobedient servant, the promising child who cannot keep His word for long. The Christmas Feast is already a fading memory, and already the mind begins to be vaguely aware of an unpleasant whiff of apprehension at the thought of Lent and Good Friday which cannot, after all, now be very far off.”

–        yet Auden hopefully concludes, “To those who have seen the child, however dimly, however incredulously, the time being is, in a sense, the most trying time of all.”

–        and for those who have seen the Star, like our Wise Men today, and gazed upon the child, they will never quite be the same again

Epiphany: a word which means manifest, make aware, illumine, reveal

  • “Arise, shine, for your light has come!” Indeed, says the prophet Isaiah, in the opening lines of today’s Old Testament lesson!
  • No post-Christmas blues for Christians; Epiphany sees to that!
  • God is manifesting himself, revealing himself in Christ for all the world to see, Jew and Gentile alike
  • No longer is there the mystery that our Epistle today speaks of, the so-called plan of salvation of the mystery hidden for ages
    • For now and forever, the Gentiles, the pagans, have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel
  • and it is, according to Saint Paul, through the church, that is you and me, that the wisdom of God in its rich variety is being made known to all in heaven and on earth
  • very much like those surprised shepherds who went to see this thing which had come to pass, or those Wise Men from the East who followed the Star to the manger; both groups went home and shared this Good News with those around them

Epiphany is a celebration that had its Christian origins in the Eastern Church wherein the commemoration of Christ’s baptism was the center of the event. In the Anglican Communion, we will celebrate that glorious event this coming Sunday, the first Sunday after the Epiphany, also referred to as the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • over time, the Western Church, that of Rome, added the Magi event that we read about in today’s Gospel and also the first miracle of Jesus at the wedding of Cana in addition to his baptism to form, if you will, a triumvirate of events comprising the fullness of Epiphany
    • the manifestation, the miraculous, the sacramental
  • this calendar year, the Epiphany season will last about two months and I can guarantee you that it will be full of surprises, of epiphanies, if you look for them with all your heart, in a spiritual sense
    • The prophet Jeremiah edifies this in his 29th chapter, “ When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart.”
  • I really liked the closing lines of today’s Epistle wherein it stated that we who believe have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in Christ Jesus our Lord
    • And this is God’s eternal purpose; this is the real Epiphany! Access to God.

Who hasn’t heard of the sports acronym BCS….Bowl Championship Series, the selection system created in 1998 that was designed to force a national championship game between the two top college football teams….it has since been replaced in 2015 by the College Football Playoff or CFP. This year, Alabama will play Clemson for the national college football championship tomorrow, January 7th , in California. Now think of the acronym CFB….. confidence, faith, boldness. This is Paul’s Epiphany charge to us today so that God would become manifested to us in Christ through our full and complete access to him, for Gentile and Jew alike. As millions watch the CFP tomorrow, the opposing players will demonstrate CFB….confidence, faith, and boldness in their expertise. Can we do less as servants of the living God in our daily lives in our Christian expertise….love! That’s our game.

  • this thought was cemented earlier in chapter two of Ephesians by Saint Paul when he said that through Jesus Christ we all have access in one Spirit to the Father. We thus all become citizens with the saints, members of the household of God, thereby building us into a holy temple with the apostles and prophets as its foundation and Jesus Christ as its cornerstone, a spiritual dwelling place for God in us…and we in him.

The time after Epiphany on the church liturgical calendar is known as Ordinary Time, just as is the time following Pentecost.

  • the liturgical color is green, symbolizing growth, life and the continuing presence of God’s spirit amongst us
  • ordinary is not meant to mean common or mundane, but rather to be taken from the root word ordinal, to count. Thus, the days following Epiphany are counted until the following season….in this case, Lent, that occurs on March 6th of this year, some 59 days later.
    • This year, because of the lateness of Easter, April 21, there are eight Sundays after Epiphany; the most there could be are nine!
  • But in each and every day of the lengthened Epiphany season, let us consciously focus upon these themes that the church has blessed us with: the manifestation, the miraculous, the sacramental
  • Also, consider the content of the gifts given by the kings, the Magi from the East, the so called three kings whose mythical names were Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. The figure three reflects the number of gifts that were given and perhaps may have a Trinitarian nuance. One is also reminded of the three visitors that came to Abraham in Chapter 18 of Genesis. In any case, the three gifts were distinctive:
    • Gold: reflective of royalty, for Jesus is a king, the King of kings
      • Kings giving gifts to a baby king
      • And at this death on the Cross, this baby would be labeled Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews
    • Frankincense: incense for adoration and worship; the priestly aspect of our Lord and Savior; he is our great high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek
    • Myrrh: a brownish, resinous material used as an embalming ointment, foreshadowing Jesus’ death and resurrection.

In closing, remember the joy expressed in the Old Testament lesson today as well as the overwhelming joy expressed by the Wise Men when they saw the star, and think about it in the sense of adoring Jesus in your daily life this Epiphany season. JESUS…..

  • your light has come
  • the Lord’s glory will cover you
  • nations shall come to your light and kings to the brightness of your dawn
  • the wealth of the nations shall come to you
  • they shall proclaim the praise of the Lord
  • they shall all gather together and come to you
    • there we have it…..come to Jesus. Come unto me…
    • the Wise Men did
    • and as the old saying goes, “Wise men still seek him!”
      • as our eternal King, Priest, and Savior
      • And we do this with CFB: Confidence, Faith and Boldness
      • Epiphany! CFB! Rah, Rah for the Lord.