The Epiphany: Go Big or Go Home!

The Adoration of the Magi, Hugo van der Goes (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

“Go Big or Go Home!” The magi could have all worn t-shirts with this saying on it in the same way that groups wear matching t-shirts when they go to Disney World. The magi were all about going BIG!

They headed out on a big trip, to cross a big desert, following points of light that filled a big sky, studying big prophecies, hoping to see one very big star. Then, they had an audience with a big king and were given a big assignment… to come back to him and tell him the location of this newborn king of the Jews.

Big plans, big hopes, big aspirations, and big expectations. The Gospel is clear about what happened next: “They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother.”

And then… everything changed.

A little baby. Poor, displaced parents. A humble setting. A singular moment and a quiet encounter. Despite what they went searching for, nothing about what they found seemed very big at all.

Everything did change. The magi were changed… so changed that they didn’t go back to Herod after all.

Sometimes, we hope for a sign, for proof, for something to move us and to shake us.

To tell us that everything is going to be ok. That God is real and that we have little reason to doubt. We like our epiphanies to be loud and convincing so that we can rest assured that there is something bigger than we are, that life is more than just the days we have been given, and that a great big creator God loves us so much that he will never abandon us.

But God taught us about himself by sending a son who just didn’t seem that way at all. Jesus didn’t go big. Usually, he went small. Quiet, solitary. So much about we know about him came from small and simple conversations with his friends. When he helped someone, it was often one on one or in little groups. And then after, he frequently said to them: “hey, don’t tell anybody about this.” In his defining moments, the crucifixion and the resurrection, very few people were there to actually even witness them.

Sometimes, we hope for a sign, for proof, for something to move us and to shake us.

But perhaps, like the magi, we might find something else instead – something that can only come to us in silence… when we’re alone and still.

Today, we are going to bless and commission some of our parishioners who do something… small. They visit those who can’t be here with us but who still are very much in communion with us. They are going to bring the Eucharist to them… much like carrying a small and quiet flame into darkness.

Sometimes, we hope for a sign, for proof, for something to move us and to shake us.

But epiphanies, the kind that can change and lift.. are often found in the quieter places and in the smaller moments. We don’t need to cross the big desert and search the big sky to find what we’re most hoping to see.

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