Sermon for The Epiphany of Our Lord – 1.6.23

+ The Epiphany of Our Lord – January 6th, 2023 +

Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12

Zion Lutheran

Tacoma, WA (Joint South-Sound congregational Epiphany Service)

 

“Lost and Found”

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Growing up, I spent a lot of time in the gymnasium of Concordia Portland. Having a father who had keys to the gym came with many benefits, one of which was an all access pass to the leftover, long-forgotten items in the Lost and Found bin. We would sift through the gym bags, over-sized sweatshirts, and unmentionables, in search of that forgotten hidden treasure. The lost and found bin is great. You receive something that wasn’t yours to begin with; it didn’t belong to you and yet you get it anyway. It’s free. Take it home. Wash it. Good as new. It’s yours.

 

This season of Epiphany that begins today is like that, but of course, far better. Epiphany is a season where the lost are found. A season where we who were lost in sin, darkness, and death are found in Christ. Forgiven in Christ. Brought into the Light of Christ. And are made alive in Christ who came to take on our sin, darkness and death and find us and rescue us.

 

Epiphany opens the gift of Jesus’ birth at Christmas and reveals that Jesus came to rummage through this world – not for some special over-looked treasure, but for the forgotten, for those lost in sin and death, for the dead sinners not even looking to be found, for you and me. He searches until he’s found every last one of His wayward sheep, until he’s found his lost coin and welcomed home his prodigal sons. Epiphany is a season where the lost are found in Christ.

 

That’s where the magi of Matthew’s gospel come in. Israel, once exiled in the east, now beckons astrologers from the east to seek Israel’s true King. That’s who they were looking for – not an after-Christmas-bargain but a king. “Where is he who is born king of the Jews?”

 

Herod has no answer. He is lost in unbelief and pride and power. He’s too busy trying to protect his throne of lies to care about the real King of the Jews. Thankfully, the prophet Micah gave them, and gives us, the answer: But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.

 

This is how it is for the magi, and for us. God’s Word finds us and points us in the right direction. Not the other way around. For God, this is the way. God speaks and we listen. His Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. His word finds us in our lostness. The lost are found in Bethlehem, and wherever Jesus makes himself known: words, water, body and blood. So it is for all who are lost.

 

I don’t know about you, but that seems to be where many of us find ourselves already in this new year. Just a few days into 2023, and no doubt, we find ourselves surrounded by lostness. Perhaps it is the loss of something this past year. A job. A home. A savings. Perhaps what is lost is not something but someone. Although truth be told, those who are dead in Christ are never lost – we know right where they are; they are with Christ. Still, we mourn the for the friend, family, or loved one when we see their empty chair; see or hear or smell something that reminds us of them.

 

In this fallen world, it’s easy to get lost. To lose hope. Lose faith. Lose our patience. Lose our way in the darkness of a broken world and our sinful flesh. Let’s face it. Apart from Christ, we’re all losers.

 

Apart from his Word; apart from His sacraments, we’re Lost. We need His Word daily, by the hour, by the minute, by the millisecond; and his sacraments – we can never get too much of Christ’s good things. The Lord’s Supper, your baptism, Christ’s forgiveness – these gifts are your “star” where Jesus does something far better for you than he did for magi, he is present with you and for you; he finds you in your lostness and rescues you in his redeeming love.

 

This is what Epiphany is about. The season where we who were lost in sin, darkness, and death, are found in Christ. Christ who is the Light of the world comes to shine upon you who sit in darkness. In Epiphany, the Sun of Righteousness shines from Bethlehem all the way to here this evening as we gather in the Lord’s house here at Zion in Tacoma, WA.

 

God gave the magi a star. But you don’t need a star. You have something better, more tangible. You have the prophets and apostles. You have Christ, the Word made flesh in bread and wine. All that you seek – all that you need – is found in Him who finds you.

 

That’s Jesus’ work in Epiphany. Lost sheep. Lost coins. Lost, prodigal sons. If the world was a department store, Jesus’ favorite department would be the Lost & Found. He finds you. Brings you home. Washes you. And you are his. Good as – no better than – new, reborn. Lost & found in Jesus.

 

Jesus is a spendthrift for your salvation. He’s a shopaholic when it comes to your sin – He shops till he drops dead in your sin. Your debt is paid in full; you are redeemed. He’s not satisfied until he’s paid for every last sinner and every last one your sins; and he does it not with gold or silver but with his holy precious blood and his innocent suffering and death. That’s not cheap grace…that’s outrageous forgiveness for undeserving sinners. That’s the joy of Epiphany. A season where the Lost who are found in Christ.

 

In Christ. That’s where the magi found who they were seeking. The King. Although, it’s not until the end of the Matthew’s Gospel that God tips his hand and answer to the Magi’s question in a far greater way than they ever could have imagined: “Where is the one born King of the Jews?”

 

Everyone wants to know if Jesus is the King. Even Pontius Pilate doesn’t get a straight answer out of Jesus. But there above his head on the cross, on Good Friday is the answer. There in crucified glory God reveals his greatest Epiphany. There Christ is lost in our sin, darkness, and death, to find you in his death and resurrection. There was no star in the sky, only a sign above his head as was crucified for you: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. O, come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

 

This Epiphany, come and worship him who drowns that little Herod within each of us in the font, like Pharaoh and his hosts in the Red sea.

 

Come and worship him who makes Holy Baptism your Epiphany, as He pours the liquid sunshine of God’s mercy and grace upon you.

Come and worship him who reveals his body in the bread we eat, and his blood in the wine we drink.

Come and worship him whom the magi worshiped 2000 years ago now present for us at his altar.

Come and worship him who came to seek and to save you. Come and worship the King of the Lost and Found.

 

A blessed Epiphany to each of you…

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

Church Office Hours

Monday - Thursday 8:30am-3:30pm

Friday 8:30am-11:30am

The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

Preschool Office Hours

August - May
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
8:30am-12:30pm

By appointment only June and July

Contact

Address
2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
Phone
(253) 922-6977
Fax
(253) 922-6977