There is an ancient legend about a sea king who longed for the fellowship of a human being. One day, upon hearing a cry, he left his palace beneath the sea and rose to the surface of the water to investigate. There he discovered a lonely child in an abandoned boat. The sea king's heart was uplifted by the thought that the child could be the companion for whom he longed. Just as he reached for the child, a rescue party intervened and he missed the prize he wanted so much. But as the child's rescuers left the spot, the sea king threw a salt wave on the head of the child. And as he submerged to return to his undersea palace, the sea king said to himself, "That child is mine. When he grows to young adulthood, the sea will call him, and he will come home to me at last."
It is only a legend, but it holds the suggestion of a larger truth; that God has placed eternity in our heart. We are restless and constantly on a quest for something better, something eternal.
The story of the Magi is the account of humanity's quest for something more, something always just beyond, something that makes us pilgrims on the earth, always in search of something of eternal value and significance.
Those wise men followed a star. The star led them to the Only Begotten Son. They worshiped him. And then they returned to their own country to live out their lives. When they returned, they were different people. They had encountered eternity in their journey and it must have transformed them.
Throughout our own lives, there are those times when we too encounter eternity. In these personal epiphanies we are changed, made new, and enabled to reach a little higher, to show a deeper reverence, to walk in new ways, and to allow the Only Begotten to be made manifest to others whose paths intersect with ours.
Each year, during this season, we read accounts of ways God was manifested in the life of Jesus Christ - for example, in his Baptism by John in the Jordan River, at the Wedding Feast in Cana of Galilee, in his preaching and teaching, in the calling of his disciples, in works of healing, and in his Transfiguration.
Each example proclaims the good news that God's manifestation in the Only Begotten Son was for all people in all times. Our Baptism declares that we are included in that manifestation! Baptism launches us on our quest for eternity. In Baptism, we are "sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ's own for ever."
What God says to us and to the world in our Baptism is similar to what the sea king said after splashing water on the head of the child for whom he longed, "That child is mine...and will come home to me at last."
How is your quest going? Perhaps this is a good time to renew your pilgrimage, or to seek Christ in new places or different ways. There may be a ministry to which you are being called and that will allow God to be manifest to others in new ways through you. You may have gifts or talents that you need to share with your community of faith to build it up and extend its influence in the lives of others.
This season of Epiphany is a good time to check to see if there is forward movement on life's most important quest. If you'd like to talk about it, priests and spiritual guides are available to you. Don't pass up the opportunity.
I'll see you in Church!