A New Season Begins!

On January 6th in our Christian calendars, the season of Epiphany begins. The name “Epiphany” comes from the Greek word Epiphania and means “to show, make known, or reveal.” It is meant to be a celebration that remembers the wonder and impact of three miracles that reveal the divinity of Jesus as King.

We remember and celebrate the visit of the three Magi during Christ’s birth, an act of Gentile recognition of Christ’s Kingship. We remember and celebrate Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River when the Father said, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” We remember and celebrate his first miracle at the wedding in Cana, when Jesus revealed his glory and his disciples believed in him. These three events are central to the definition of Epiphany and its meaning, and each one of these event point to joy.

We rejoice in the coming of Christ, but it’s not enough for Christ to have been born. 

Epiphany begins with the Magi receiving an order from King Herod and disobeying that order because of a word from God. The Magi had to make a choice, to trust God in King Jesus or trust King Herod. They trusted God. 

Among the many beautiful things we receive during Epiphany, we receive an invitation. We are invited to trust God in King Jesus, or we can go on trusting King Herod. The reality is, both kings are at work in the world creating all sorts of tension in our lives. Both kings make promises and offer what they believe to be the ‘good life.’ Sometimes their decrees are aligned, sometimes they are not. It’s when they are not that a choice must be made. In our hearts, one king must submit to another. We cannot split allegiances. Thanks be to God, Epiphany is tied to the Christmas promise: the way of God in King Jesus is our liberation and true way to hope, peace, joy, and love.

During the season of Epiphany, we receive the invitation and celebrate the promise as we remember our pledge of allegiance to King Jesus. When we hear the words of the Father pronounced over Jesus in his baptism, “This is my beloved son,” we remember this pronouncement is ours too. When we see the miracle-working power of Jesus throughout the Scriptures, we remember that God is all about new possibilities. Let’s allow the season of Epiphany to make known the wondrous love and reign of Jesus our King and the new possibilities he brings. God has come to us! Jesus is King and light to the nations.

One more thing to remember, since our faith that includes every tongue and nation.

In Hispanic and Latin culture, as well as some places in Europe, it is known as ‘Three Kings’ Day. In many of these countries, it is celebrated with special pastries, including a Kings Cake, and is a time of feasting and celebration. Children often receive small gifts in their shoes in honor of the Magi’s gifts to the infant Jesus. 

Epiphany Sunday marks a straight line between Christ’s birth and his baptism, his incarnation and the declaration from the voice from heaven that he is the Son of God. Therefore, Epiphany is more than one Sunday; it becomes a season that guides the Church through the life and ministry of Jesus. It extends from January 6th until Ash Wednesday, which begins the season of Lent leading to Easter. 

Celebrate, beloved. Remember. And receive the invitation.

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A New Years Prayer by Howard Thurman

“Grant that I may pass through
the coming year with a faithful heart.
There will be much to test me and
make weak my strength before the year ends.
In my confusion I shall often say the word that is not true and do the thing of which I am ashamed.
There will be errors in the mind
and great inaccuracies of judgment…

In seeking the light,
I shall again and again find myself
walking in the darkness.
I shall mistake my light for Your light
and I shall drink from the responsibility of the choice I make.
Nevertheless, grant that I may pass through the coming year with a faithful heart.

May I never give the approval of my heart to error, to falseness, to vanity, to sin.
Though my days be marked
with failures, stumblings, fallings,
let my spirit be free
so that You may take it
and redeem my moments
in all the ways my needs reveal.
Give me the quiet assurance
of Your Love and Presence.
Grant that I may pass through
the coming year with a faithful heart.”

Meditations of the Heart

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Blessed are the Merciful

Healthcare workers hold up photos of themselves to show their COVID-19 patients what they look like without PPE at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, December 28, 2020. 📷 @callaghan_ohare

This photo and everything about it weighs heavy on me. Why COVID-19 naysayers still exist is beyond my understanding. When I see images like this I am reminded of the depth and humanness of its realness.

To all my friends who work in any realm of the healthcare profession, and to all those who love you, I honor you and am grateful for you. I am sorry that we as a society haven’t done better by you. Thank you for rising above our selfishness and irrational ideologies and choosing to care for us anyway. You are the embodiment of grace and mercy in this merciless and graceless season.

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She Speaks (a parable)

With a rhyme on her lips and rhythm in her heart, she meets the eyes of the gathered. She opens the Holy Book and turns the page. She speaks:

‘“If we say we are his we must follow the example of Christ.” First John, chapter two, the sixth verse.

The devil shouts, but the Lord whispers. The devil assigns labels, but the Lord favors love. The devil judges mercilessly and upholds falsity, but the Lord judges mercifully and upholds truth.

Brothers and sisters, if our neighbors hear Christians shouting out labels in merciless judgement and denying the truth, they can know that it isn’t of the Lord.”

The eyes of the gathered meet her eyes as she closes the Holy Book. With a rhyme in her soul and rhythm in her step she walks back to her seat at the Lord’s Table.

The Lord leans over and whispers, “Well done, daughter.”

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The Work of Christmas

“The Work of Christmas” is written by Howard Thurman from his work, The Mood of Christmas and Other Celebrations.

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

PRAYER

Holy God who came to us in a manger, teach us to follow our Lord into the lives of others so that we may proclaim your reign of love and grace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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