At this Feast of the Epiphany we celebrate the full inclusion of people of other religions and countries to the discovery of Jesus, the Christ. Significantly, these seekers from another place and religion who saw an amazingly bright star in the darkness and followed it to the baby Jesus may well have been from Persia, Iran today. They sought, they followed, they found and they brought their gifts. The hunger for something more of God, the willingness to leave the familiar and comfortable, to travel in the darkness, to see with new light, to understand anew and thereby find, and to respond by the gift of one’s treasures to God is a road that we are all invited to take. May it lead us to God, may it lead us to the Christ-child. And may we welcome all people from everywhere and in all states of knowledge and being to the Christ, leaving no one out.
Here we present some insights from other preachers and theologians- from an African American woman theologian, from a Roman Catholic woman priest, from a contemporary Protestant preacher and a time honored theologian,that add to our epiphany this day.
As I look at my congregation on Sunday-all colors, all races, from several countries speaking several languages, very poor and financially comfortable, young and old I see the richness of Epiphany before me-for I discover in each the face of Christ.
Let us look up and look around and open our eyes.
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP
From African American Theologian Bernice Reagon Johnson
The Feast of the Epiphany, as this Sunday is sometimes called in Christendom, marks the last of the Twelve Days of Christmas. It is the significant celebration of the visit of the Magi to the Manger Messiah. Epiphany retells to us the story of the adoration and welcome from foreign delegations to Bethlehem’s stable and the witness of the corral of livestock, shepherds, and an angelic retinue in that crisp, cold, quiet stillness of the night where the Prince of Peace and infant King of Kings lay.
In the Classical sense an epiphany, a concept derived from the ancient Greek word (epiphaneia), meaning a “manifestation” or “striking appearance,” is the sudden realization, understanding, or comprehension of the larger essence or meaning of something. This term is often used in either a philosophical or literal sense to signify that the claimant has “found the last piece of the puzzle and now sees the whole picture.” It is indicative of new information or a new experience, often insignificant by itself, that illuminates a deeper numinous foundational frame of reference. The Epiphanic Juncture is the place where a luminous light is cast upon deep darkness and that which was enigmatic is now startlingly clear.
Such was the occasion of both the visit of those whose wisdom had given them the insight to know that this happening in the backstretches of Judea was no insignificant occurrence….”
FROM ROMAN CATHOLIC WOMAN PRIEST REV BEVERLY BINGLE:
Jesus of Nazareth is indeed our epiphany,
opening our eyes and hearts
to what is deepest in the life of all things, the sacredness of everything that is. He reveals the hidden ground of our being. It’s an epiphany! The manifestation of God in human form!…. __________________________________________ Matthew’s gospel gives us snapshots of two kinds of relationships in our human world: there is the wrong relationship, revealed in Herod’s fear and malicious intent, and there is the right relationship, revealed in the open searching of the magi, their honest questioning, their recognition of the graciousness of God in the newborn child, and the unquestioning welcome extended to these strangers from the East by the family in the stable. __________________________________________ The news these days is pretty much awful— pain and suffering, violence and mayhem, tragedy and catastrophe. If I thought that was all there was, I could conclude that the world is nothing but evil. And I would be wrong. The fact is that the TV and radio and newspaper stories are news because they are the exception. The rule is love, peace, and harmony. People get along. Goodness is the norm. Love and peace are unexceptional— the way things are, and that’s not news. __________________________________________ Violet had been in a pretty tough situation when she walked into Claver House five months ago, unkempt and hungry and wary and sad… and pregnant. One of the volunteers sat down and talked with her as she was eating and asked the right questions: any doctor for pre-natal care? any resources to get baby stuff? family and friends to help along the way? And she was given phone numbers and contact names for Heartbeat, and a shelter, and the hours at the food pantry. The change was gradual over the next few months— clean clothes, clean hair, the beginnings of trust. She came in regularly, began to smile and talk with folks. On Christmas Eve morning, Vi showed up with her tiny baby daughter, three weeks old. I watched as this rough-and-tumble, down-and-out gathering of women and men surrounded mother and child, fussing over them, gentle and kind. I saw the good news come alive once again, another manifestation of God-with-us and in us and among us. It is good news, and it’s everywhere, but it doesn’t make headlines because it’s normal. __________________________________________ Depravity is not what we find in the very depth of our being. We’re not sinful in our basic nature. We come forth on this earth as part of the gracious mystery of God, sparking forth from all eternity. We are created in relationship. When we separate ourselves from other people or from nature, we separate ourselves from God. When we act in right relationship, we show what we are made of. We manifest God in the world. We—you, me, each of us—is an epiphany, a revelation of God to one another and to the world.
— Holy Spirit Catholic Community Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. Sundays at 5:30 p.m. at 3925 West Central Avenue (Washington Church)
Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH 43608-2006
From Bruce Epperly
“….The Adventurous Lectionary – Epiphany Sunday – January 3, 2016 Matthew 2:1-15
The Second Sunday of Christmas will also be celebrated as Epiphany Sunday …. we will celebrate God’s light through gospel music and communion. In a time of political xenophobia, we will remember that the magi most likely came from Iran, and we will look for God’s presence in unexpected places and among unexpected people – the homeless, Syrian refugees, and undocumented immigrants….
Today, certain politicians would bar Muslims from entering our nation. Native born terrorists deface Muslim houses of worship. This passage doesn’t prescribe immigration law or public policy, or privilege liberal or conservative ideologies, but it does affirm that God is present in other faith traditions, even those from which our enemies arise.
The magi were guided by a star. However we understand the movements of the stars – astronomically or astrologically – there is congruence, the scripture suggests, between heaven and earth, between the non-human and human worlds. God’s word and wisdom – Logos and Sophia – are the creative principles of all things, guiding the stars and our souls to wholeness. We live in a revelatory universe, where the stars above and the spirit within witness to God’s loving providence. A child’s cry echoes God’s voice; a camel bearing the magi presents divine gifts; and foreigners receive a revelation…
The magi “left for their country by another road.” Following God may mean changing direction or choosing a new route for our lives. Sometimes this road presents new vistas and fills us with excitement. God’s star may take us to strange places, and yet when God changes our direction, God gives us directions for the journey.
Other times, we recognize that we will be lost if we fail to take another route, or change our lives. Transformation occurs as a result of divine lure, it also occurs through our recognition that we must change or die. The magi’s careful planning needed to be revised in light of God’s new vision presented to them….
The flight of the holy family is a reminder that forced immigration – political or economic – is also part of God’s revelation to humankind. While we need to be a “nation of laws,” we should greet immigrant children as Christ-children rather than alien invaders, and we should welcome them with clothes and meals, not placards and invectives. They too are following stars and are inspired by dreams – of survival, a better life for their children, and peaceful communities. The journey of the magi also reminds us that revelation is given to – and can come from – persons beyond our ethnic and religious boundaries. God is generous with revelation and salvation….”
And for our Meditation a Poem by Lutheran theologian: Walter Brueggemann
On Epiphany day, we are still the people walking. We are still people in the dark, and the darkness looms large around us, beset as we are by fear, anxiety, brutality, violence, loss — a dozen alienations that we cannot manage.
We are — we could be — people of your light. So we pray for the light of your glorious presence as we wait for your appearing; we pray for the light of your wondrous grace as we exhaust our coping capacity; we pray for your gift of newness that will override our weariness; we pray that we may see and know and hear and trust in your good rule.
That we may have energy, courage, and freedom to enact your rule through the demands of this day. We submit our day to you and to your rule, with deep joy and high hope.
Now a professor emeritus of Old Testament studies at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, Brueggemann has authored over seventy books. Taken from his Prayers for a Privileged People(Nashville: Abingdon, 2008), p. 163.