Feast of Epiphany – January 6, 2012
|Reading 1:||Reading 2:||Reading 3:||Reading 4:|
|Isaiah 60:1-6||Psalm 72:17, 10-14||Ephesians 3:1-12||Matthew 2:1-12|
By Bruce G. Epperly
Epiphany is the season of God’s revealing. A light goes on in our minds and hearts, mirroring God’s light in the sky. There’s a star in the sky, guiding magi from the East, spiritual leaders from another faith tradition. Epiphany reminds us that God is present in our cells as well as our souls. God’s revelation is to all people, and not just for chosen people or nations. There is no Calvinistic double predestination here, but a calling to all people. Salvation comes to all creation, without exceptions. God has no outsiders; all are welcome in God’s realm of shalom.
Epiphany is the surprising season of the magi. Everything is upside down in the story. The magi are foreigners from another religion. They don’t belong in Judea, nor should they be looking for God in the Jewish faith tradition. The star they follow leads them to a humble dwelling place, and not a royal palace. God is present everywhere, but most present in the child of a working class family, and not a scion of the royal court.
Epiphany gives us hope that all of us are loved, all of us are nurtured, all of us are welcomed, all of us taught, and all of us given light for the journey.
There is a hint of tragedy as well as well as threat in the passage. The magi are warned in a dream not to return to the palace. The king’s intentions are unclear but as the story unfolds, it becomes evident that he sees the baby as a threat and will do everything he can to destroy Jesus.
Mysticism guides the magi-cal journey. They follow a heavenly star to the child’s home, and then are warned by a dream to change course. They experience revelation in the heavens and in the wisdom of the unconscious. All things are words of God, all moments can reveal God’s sighs too deep for words.
“They left for their country – they returned home – by another road.” This brief sentence is one of my favorite passages in scripture. It’s not just about our geographical GPS, it’s also about our spiritual and vocational GPS. How many of us today are going forth by another road than we anticipated? How many of us find ourselves changing course in our personal and spiritual journeys?
As singer-songwriter Paul Simon avers: “We believe we’re gliding down the highway, when in fact we’re slip, sliding away.” Few of us are certain where our pathways are going these days. But, our trust is that we are being guided by a star in the sky and a light in our hearts.
Isaiah 60 edifies the Gospel wisdom, “arise, shine, your light has come.” Look around, pause and notice, God’s light moving in your light and the world. There is darkness all around, but just a candle can help us find our way to the next steps of our adventure.
Psalm 72 describes an “en-lightened” government. Inspired by divine light, rulers seek justice and prosperity for all people. God desires abundance and challenges governmental leaders to be agents of abundance, so that all people have enough to flourish.
Ephesians continues the theme of universality. Creation and redemption are one dynamic reality. God’s creation gives us guidance for personal transformation. But, universality is the foundation of diversity. Paul asserts that “the wisdom of God in all its rich variety” is revealed within all creation. God loves diversity and seeks variety in all of God’s expressions – Epiphany awakens us to God’s prismatic revelations, whether in ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or religion.
The feast of Epiphany calls us to wake up and then get up! Open your senses to God’s manifold revelation; open your heart to God’s love for each person.
Bruce Epperly is a theologian, spiritual guide, pastor, and author of twenty one books, including Process Theology: A Guide to the Perplexed, Holy Adventure: 41 Days of Audacious Living, Philippians: An Interactive Bible Study, and The Center is Everywhere: Celtic Spirituality for the Postmodern Age. He is available for lectures, workshops, and retreats.