Twelve days after Christmas is a special day called Epiphany. This Sunday is close to that day (January 6) and many churches celebrate Epiphany. An epiphany is an experience of a sudden striking realization of something that changes us. You have heard people say, “I have seen the light.” When someone says that they usually mean that they have experienced something that has given them a new perspective, which has helped them come to a deeper understanding of themselves and of God.
In the gospel story today we hear about the epiphany that inspires this celebration in churches. The first reading from Isaiah is a response of exiled people who experienced an epiphany of God’s presence as they were led back to their homeland. Both of these scripture passages use the images of light to describe experiences of coming to a deeper realization of God-with-us.
In the gospel story the wise men that live far away from the birthplace of Jesus literally see a light, a star in the sky. For some reason, they think this star is important and indicates the birth of a new king. So they prepare for a trip to find this new king. The story says that this trip even involved getting lost because the wise men stopped to get directions from Herod. When they got back on the right track and saw the star again bringing them to their destination the story says they were overwhelmed with joy.
The sight of the star in the sky somehow convinced the wise men to go on a journey to find Jesus. They did not give up on their trip when they got lost. They lost sight of the star but they knew it was still there so they kept on going and stopped to ask for directions. When they got back on track and were in the presence of the baby they dropped to their knees to show respect, honor and reverence for this life changing experience of following the light to meet Jesus.
This gospel story and the imagery in Isaiah of seeing light, letting light shine and experiencing radiance can help us reflect on the epiphanies of our own lives. As you look back on your life can you see times when you gained clearer understandings of yourself and of God?
We like the wise men are on a journey and can loose sight of the light. We can fall into dark places when things happen that we do not expect or would not choose. When the light of love breaks through the darkness we like the wise men are filled with hope and can continue the journey even if we have to stop and ask for directions.
Light that shines in the darkness is like a breath of fresh air. It can resuscitate us and take us to the next place. We each have light inside of us that must be nurtured so it can grow and so it can help other people. Light takes the form of peace, love and joy and it is much more powerful than the darkness of fear, hate and sadness.
By what light do you see God? Have you had any epiphanies lately? What peace, love or joy has taken you to a new understanding of yourself and of God? I shared with you last week about a recent epiphany I experienced when the children arrived just in time to help us do our Christmas program. That experience of love from the parents, the children and the Spirit, filled me with a deeper reverence, respect and honor of God. I felt like the wise men who were overwhelmed with joy and who dropped to their knees when they found the baby Jesus. In the midst of a very busy week of preparing Christmas celebrations I experienced God-with-us in and deep and powerful way.
How about you? Where are you on the journey? Are you in a dark place? Do you see a light? Have you experienced any epiphanies? Do you need to stop for directions? I pray that we can learn from the story of the wise men that the light leads us out of the darkness and that we must continue the journey even when we loose sight of the star. May we continue to be a light for each other like the children and their parents were for me. And may we continue to grow into a deeper understanding of ourselves and of God who is always with us.
|Donna Rougeux, ARCWP|