Manifestations of the divine

As I am retiring, after 34 years of ministry, I was 32 years old when I began, it struck me how one continues to learn so much as a minister.

This week for example I learned that the three wise men were the first and last men invited to a baby shower. Why, you might ask? Because of the most impractical gifts they brought for the baby!

Seriously though, we do learn a lot each time we prepare a message. Before we begin though, I want to mention a little story that happened last Sunday as I was preparing the altar for the 12:45 French mass. A man came up and began questioning me about the bible, whether we were to take the passages as factual. I went on to tell him that many of the stories are religious myths. À la Messe de la veille de Noel, je vous ai parlé des mythes religieux. Religious myths are stories in the Bible that are meant to tell us truths, but are not to be taken literally.

The story of the magi is a good example. This story is highly improbable. Have you ever tried to follow a star? What happens, it just gets further away. Does a star stop above a house? How would you know which house? It does not make literal sense.

It is, though, a beautiful story that has been developed with the wise men numbering three added over time, in the eastern church it is 12. The songs we sing gave them names. A lovely story, a lovely religious myth that was created to tell us certain truths. I was shocked in reading various commentaries this week, how commentators do not want to say the obvious, that this is not a factual account, as they go on and on to talk about where the wise men would have come from, etc..etc…Only one site dared mention it. The epiphany story is a religious myth telling us certain truths.

Alors, l’histoire des rois mages, comme celle à Noel avec les anges et les bergers, est un autre exemple d’un mythe religieux qui a été créé pour nous donner certaines vérités.  Pour en nommer quelques-unes :

La naissance de Jésus a été d’une importance cosmique.

Jésus est le fils de Dieu, le Messie. Jésus est roi. Les mages venant de l’Est nous rappellent que le Messie est venu pour tous, pas seulement le peuple juif.

The truth the Epiphany story is telling us is that Jesus birth has cosmic importance. Jesus is king and he has come for all people.

 

Now I believe there are other lessons we can learn from this story if we look at the wise men that might help us as we begin this new year.

We call this day Epiphany, which means a manifestation of the divine. These wise men were attentive to signs, events, that could be pointing to God at work in the universe, manifestations of the divine.

The question I was asking myself this week was simple. Are we attentive to manifestations of the divine around us? I want to share with you three moments this week where I encountered the divine, and there could be many more. I was at a dinner party of a person who collects modern art. I found myself in front of a beautiful piece and I asked the host, ‘Is this not a Riopelle?’

J’étais debout devant cette toile et je voyais toute la beauté des couleurs, each brush stroke. In that beautiful work of a Quebec painter, I saw a manifestation of the divine. J’aurais voulu rester là à admirer cette toile de Riopelle, mais je ne voulais pas paraître impoli et je me suis joint aux autres invités. Épiphanie veut dire une manifestation du divin. Devant cette toile de Riopelle, j’avais une manifestation du divin. Art can be a manifestation of the divine.

Later that week, I saw the movie Bohemian rhapsody, the story of Freddie Mercury and his band Queen. Again, I sat with tears in my eyes to see and hear what they created, how they brought joy to so many thousands of people. What they did was a manifestation of the divine. Je ne serais pas le premier à dire que le divin se présente dans la musique. Le Messie de Händel qui a été chanté ici avant Noel est un autre exemple comment la musique peut nous refléter Dieu. Ce que j’aimerais que vous preniez conscience c’est que le Divin peut se présenter dans des choses qui sont du séculier. Il ne faut pas limiter Dieu aux choses religieuses. Music can be a manifestation of the divine.

I also saw a glimpse of the divine on Boxing Day when my family was with my 98-year-old mother & my partner was feeding her his home-made soup. Même un geste aussi simple qu’un homme qui donne à manger à une vielle femme, qui n’est même pas sa mère, peut être un exemple de la manifestation du divin.

People can be a manifestation of the divine.

So the question I ask you now is, where have you seen the divine?

Où est-ce que vous avez vu le Divin dans vos propres vies?

Les rois mages étaient attentifs et ils ont pu trouver l’enfant Jésus.

Soyez attentifs aux manifestions du Divin qui vous entourent parce que vous serez changés quand vous les reconnaissez.

Be attentive to the signs of the Divine that surround you because we are changed when we recognize them.

Finally, as we begin a New year, there is another lesson we can learn from the story of the Wise men.

They were not afraid to ask questions when they were not sure of the way to go. They were also not afraid to change their plans. Having been warned in a dream that Herod was not to be trusted, they chose another route home.

Les rois mages n’avaient pas peur de demander des questions quand ils n’étaient pas certains du chemin. Ils n’avaient pas peur de changer leurs plans face à des nouvelles informations.

Nous sommes devant une nouvelle année. Prenons une leçon des rois mages, il n’y a rien de mal à demander des conseils à d’autres quand on n’est pas certain du chemin à prendre dans la vie. Ces mêmes sages, face à des nouvelles informations, n’ont pas eu peur de changer leurs plans et de trouver une autre route. Nous autres aussi ne devront jamais rester rigides face à la vie.

Think of how much easier life would be in 2019, if we were not afraid to ask others opinions when we are searching for the way to go. Think how much trouble we could avoid if we decided, at times, given what I have heard, I had better change my plans.

Just like the wise men, when you are faced with major decisions, don’t be afraid to ask for advice and don’t be afraid to change your plans if necessary.

En 2019, face à des décisions majeures, n’hésitez pas à demander des questions et n’hésitez pas à changer vos plans au besoin.

 

Mes frères et sœurs dans la foi, brothers and sisters in the faith, the stories of the magi may be religious myths but they are filled with truths to live by.

La naissance de Jésus a une importance cosmique. Jésus est le fils de Dieu, le Messie et il est venu pour tous.

The truth the Epiphany story is telling us that Jesus’ birth has cosmic importance. Jesus is king and he has come for all people. 

Comme les rois mages, soyez attentifs aux manifestions du Divin qui vous entourent.

Be attentive to the signs of the Divine that surround you.

Just like the wise men, when you are faced with major decisions, don’t be afraid to ask for advice and don’t be afraid to change your plans if necessary.

En 2019, face à des décisions majeures, n’hésitez pas à demander des questions et n’hésitez pas à changer vos plans au besoin.

As I leave Christ Church Cathedral, I would like to bless you. Je sais qu’une bénédiction ne se fait pas d’habitude après l’homélie, but I am leaving…

 

May God bless you and keep you.

May you always be aware of God’s love for you.

Que l’étoile du Christ vous guide tous les jours de votre vie.

Et que Dieu vous bénisse au nom du Père et du Fils et du Saint-Esprit.

 

And all God’s people said Amen.

 

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