The first thing we notice at Epiphany is that God is keeping a secret. He speaks in dreams. Herod doesn't have a clue and he's in power. The ruling religious authorities don't have a clue and they're in power. Once again, who do we see that does have a clue? Powerless shepherds, a couple (Mary and Joseph) without any money, not even enough for his wife to give birth in a decent spot. And now we find three pagan kings who get wind of this and show up.
One thing for sure is that God has a secret plan, and he wants us to be in on it. Another thing that is certain is that the world at large generally does not have a clue nor a desire to know what this plan is, or they would all want to get in on it.
Why in the world would God want to keep everything so secret? Well that would give away the entire reason for our existence. How can we be free to choose God or to choose something else if we see God in all his power and majesty? Of course, we are going to choose the rich, powerful friend if we can see him, but the point is that we're not going to see him as he is.
What did the wise men find when they arrived? They didn't find a king with fine robes and power and money! They didn't find anything resembling a king. What were they looking for? Well, whatever it was, these pagans managed to recognize Christ for who he was as far as they were able to tell, and that's a lot more than the religious authorities of Christ's day when Jesus got older or the Kings ever figured out, and isn't that still true today?!
We have to be a bit creative in order to find Christ in this world; and, in a sense, pass the test that God offers us. This is one of the great gifts we receive by coming to church on Sunday, you know! We're giving the answers to the tests of life in advance by coming here, so all of this should be easier for us in some way. At least easier to see what it is that God wants and the meaning of life.
What I mean is that we are not going to find Christ magnificently draped in robes or coming on the clouds of heaven. He's going to be hiding in suffering and trials and in people of need that come our way or opportunities to help that we could pass by without sinning, but perhaps Christ is waiting to see if we will notice him.
He's not going to appear as himself. That's part of the test; but fortunately, you and I have the answers to the test in advance. We would do well to remember that you and I are all going to run into him this week. Christ will be coming in disguise. Your job is to notice him. Be kind to the person taking your order at a restaurant or the name of the maid who did your room, or to take the time to bring plastic bags here to support the Food Bank. It isn't hard to notice people. And many of these people are Christ in disguise and a wise man and woman will know where to find him.