Often the lectionary readings for a particular Sunday seem at best to be hobbled together or at worst to represent a hidden
theological meaning only apparent to the lectioners who selected the texts. They have little to do with the individual
texts that have been put together.
The Old Testament reading for this Epiphany (Isaiah 60:1-7) does not fit the critique I described. Both texts proclaim
explicitly and implicitly, "Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For
darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD shall arise upon you, and his glory will
appear over you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn."
Of course the kings, or better magi (by the way not counted as three or named until in later traditions after the earliest
New Testament manuscripts), come seeking the brightness of the new light. The darkness is represented by King Herod. We know what Herod wanted to do, namely to kill the light the magi were seeking. Nevertheless the magi found the bright light and were "overwhelmed with joy." They brought gifts of gold and frankincense (see Isaiah 60:6), and added myrrh used in preparation of a body for burial. Matthew adds myrrh possibly as a reminder to all that this infant would suffer death on a cross. The magi arise and seek the light.
The magi, whatever number there may have been, do not hesitate to go beyond the past. They seek a new future knowing that they are not bound by the past. Too frequently we get bound in our past. We fail to reach for the new future God offers.
Our challenge is to get up, arise, and grasp the future that is given in this infant. The light is handed to us. We can
and must arise to gather the faith and love extended in this simple birth of a child in a manger. We must not reach for
just any star that comes along. And as one preacher said, "We are often more like Herod than like the magi. We may have
been hanging around the right place all of the time. It's all happened right before our eyes, in our own home town, but we
have been so busy with other things that we have missed the very thing that could make all things meaningful."
As we come to this child in a manger we come to find out that this gift from God has always been seeking us. In fact, our
seeking results in the recognition that our search is ever so limited compared to the unlimited searching of us by the God
Arise, shine; for your light has come today.