January 6, 2005
The Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12
Sermon: "Not Hoarders But Sharers of the Light"
The Rev. William D. Oldland
Not Hoarders But Sharers of the Light
Epiphany - January 6, 2005
I have always enjoyed cartoons. Cartoons often have a way of copying real life. One of my favorites for a while was Disney's Duck Tales. This cartoon involved Huey, Dewey and Louis, the nephews of Donald Duck and their uncle, Uncle Scrooge. In this cartoon Uncle Scrooge was always trying to protect his money. He had a large vault on his property where he stored his cash. He would go and check his vault every day. In fact, he would go and dive into his money like we would dive into a pool. He had developed the ability to swim in his cash the way we would swim in water. He even had a diving board installed in the vault to aid him in enjoying his cash. He suffered from two sins. His first sin was greed. His second sin was hoarding. Everything he did revolved around getting more money. Secondly, once he got the money he did not want to give it away.
Tonight, I would like to focus for just a minute on hoarding. Hoarding comes in many different forms. For Uncle Scrooge it was hoarding money. My Aunt Isabel hoarded coffee at one time. When I was a teenager I worked for a woman who never threw anything away. She had boxes of canned food, sewing thread spools, gallon milk jugs, magazines and a host of other things stored in her attic and her home. Hoarding comes from the fear that if we give it away we won't have it for ourselves when we need it.
Interestingly, this fear will cause us to even attempt to hoard God. Over the years many cultures have tried to claim God is theirs and only theirs. For example, the Hebrew people believed Yahweh was their God. By the time of Jesus the belief was very popular that Yahweh was the Hebrew God for the Hebrew people. Some groups, not all, within the Hebrew people felt that in order for a Gentile to be accepted by God they had to become Jewish first. A person would have to go through training. They would have to accept certain rules and regulations. Finally, if they were male they would have to be circumcised.
This concept still exists today. We have groups who claim to be Christian who claim to be the only true path to God. In order for Jesus to be your savior and my Savior we have to believe the same things they do. We have to conform to their worship, their beliefs, and in some cases, their lifestyle. Many of these groups we call cults. However, there are many churches in mainline denominations who believe this way. They believe God is their God alone. The rules are designed to keep people away or out. The underlying fear is that there is not enough of God to go around.
This understanding of the nature of God could not be more misinterpreted. God is the God of all people. When God brought the Hebrew people out of bondage in Egypt, he wanted them to be God's people. When they came to the promised land they were to be a light to the nations. Their belief and their love for God was to be the source of the light. They were to share this light to all people and thus share their knowledge of a saving and loving God to the world. However, the message was misinterpreted over time. We deal today with the same misinterpretation.
Yet, we are called to be a light to all people. We are now called to share the love of God to everyone. The proof is in the presence of the wise men. These men were not Hebrew scholars from different lands. They were astrologers who saw the star and interpreted its presence to mean something wonderful was happening. Many stories existed that the presence of a great king was to be foretold by the heavens. These men knew these stories. When they saw the star they made the conscious decision to follow it and see this new king. They were not disappointed.
We have to be aware that the people who should have recognized the star did not. They did not arrive at the same meaning of the presence of the star. When these men arrived, they did not welcome them as weary travelers and greet with joy the news they shared. They were not the light of God to the world. In fact, they could not recognize the light God placed for them to see in the heavens above.
Yet, the presence of the wise men holds great meaning. God does not intend any one group to attempt to hoard God's presence. The knowledge of the love of God for the world is to be shared abroad. The light of the world has come and we are called to share that light to everyone we meet. God is the God of the Gentile and the Jew. God is the God of the rich and the poor. God is the God of American, African, Asian and South American. God is the God of all races of all peoples of all colors and persuasions. There is not one person that God does not want to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.
So tonight we celebrate the coming of the wise men to Bethlehem. We celebrate their presence because it means Good News to us. The light of the world has come in Jesus Christ. He is our hope. He is our God. Tonight we also have to acknowledge our mission. Our mission is to share the love of God to the world. We now have the wonderful opportunity to share the message of Christ, to share the light of the world, to those around us. We are not called to try and hoard Christ. We are called to share Christ. My prayer is for each of us to be many small lights of the love of God during this Epiphany season. I pray each of us will let our light shine so that others will see the wonderful love of God. I suppose I am praying for us to be mini-Lights, mini-stars to our friends and neighbors. As the song says, “This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.”