Tag Archives: Epiphany

Gospel Reflection for January 7, 2018, Epiphany

4 Jan

Scripture Readings: Isaiah 60.1-6; Ephesians 3.2-3, 5-6; Matthew 2.1-12

“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We observed his star at its rising and have come to pay him homage.” – Matthew 2.2

Epiphany celebrate the manifestation of Jesus to Gentile seekers. Learned Gentiles discover through their study of the heavens a new star that sets them on an earthly journey. A phenomenon in nature stirs their curiosity. They step out of the familiar and comfortable to search for something more. A great thing about being human is that we can always change. We can turn toward and turn away. We, too, can seek more. We can look beyond the places we go day after day and beyond the present.

What new horizon summons you? What first step can you take?


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Making Room For Jesus

8 Jan
Photo via Flickr user Steve Corey

Photo via Flickr user Steve Corey

The season of Epiphany, this sacred time after Christmas, always brings me back to Mary, and how she made room in her life for Jesus.

When she learned of the child growing inside of her, I imagine her having to rearrange her mind and heart a bit to make room for another person. She had to welcome this detour, this unexpected gift as her path, her life shifted forever.

While pregnant, her body literally made room for him. A pregnant woman’s organs shift dramatically as the child grows. Her lungs rise, the bladder gets pressed on, the intestines shift, and the heart has to work harder.

Then after Jesus was born, I imagine how her world changed. Like so many new parents, I’m sure her love for her child took her breath away. She most likely immediately had to adjust to less sleep, less free time, and the growing responsibility of keeping a person alive and healthy. Her heart broke open in love for her baby.

And yet Jesus was not just any child. Think about the confusion, excitement, fear, pride and trepidation that must have come with watching her son’s ministry grow. Ultimately, she had to watch her son die on a cross. She had to go on without him, something no mother should have to endure.

Mary made room in her body, her heart and her life for Jesus. How can we make room for Jesus to dwell in our lives?

Gospel Reflection for January 3, 2016, Epiphany

30 Dec
Photo via Flickr user Waiting For The Word

Photo via Flickr user Waiting For The Word

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 60.1-6; Ephesians 3.2-3, 5-6; Matthew 2.1-12

“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We observe his star at its rising and have come to pay him h0mage.”

(Matthew 2.2)

The three kings stand for all of us who do not share the Jewish identity of Jesus and his first followers. Jesus is not just for Jew or just for Christian either. Exclusiveness is a natural inclination. Life is easier with people who are like us, who think the way we think, and do things the way we do. But there is no mistaking the message of Epiphany. God is inclusive and wants us to be so in matters of faith and worship and managing the goods of the world. Jew or Gentile, Christian or Muslim, native or alien, black, brown, yellow, red, or white, male or female, straight or gay — whoever we are and wherever we are from — we are all invited and welcome to visit the child of Bethlehem and receive the good news of peace, mercy, and reconciliation he brings.

What have you learned from people of other faiths about what they value about Jesus?

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Something Sacred, Awakened, New

8 Jan

Christians who follow the Gregorian calendar celebrate Epiphany annually on January 6th. It’s also called Theophany or “vision from God.” It’s a day to celebrate God becoming human in Jesus. The divinity within humanity, the dwelling with, the glorious presence, the love come down is at the center of our feast day. It is a feast of manifestation. Western Christians celebrate the Magi visiting baby Jesus, God manifested in real, physical, human form. Eastern Christians celebrate the baptism of Jesus, the spirit of God manifested to the world through Jesus. The image of the Magi’s silhouettes against the desert horizon following the star is maybe the strongest from my childhood faith. It is that image I associate with the Christmas season. Three kings, following a star, bearing gifts, traveling far– it’s a magical story filled with awe. God is with us, as a vulnerable baby. It’s mysterious and wondrous.

night sky

Photo: Flickr User robin_24

Epiphany is also a word we use in common language. The ancient Greek word epiphany means manifestation. It’s a word originally used to convey a moment of special insight with supernatural help from the outside. Today, there is less of a divine connotation, yet it still conveys deep revelation that seems to change everything fundamentally. The most famous epiphany is probably Sir Isaac Newton’s epiphany about a falling apple, the moon, and gravity. Newton sitting under a tree, like the Magi, is a childhood image that stuck. He wasn’t daydreaming. He had done his own rigorous study. He was ready to have the deep realization. Something seemingly from the outside awakened something inside of him, and he was transformed. There was a moment of clarity that changed everything. His deep knowledge got him ready for this giant leap forward in understanding. What triggered that leap is a bit of a mystery.

This Epiphany, I’m struck by the process of manifestation, the work that makes epiphany possible matched with the utter mystery and otherness of it all. The magi took the time, made the effort, traveled the necessary distance to see the baby. They could have stayed home. Newton did the work, studied, built up his knowledge enough to be ready for a breakthrough. Yet the actual epiphany was a gift. The process is awakening something inside of ourselves that is already there, unlocking the rumbling made possible by our open, seeking hearts that knows the dignity of committed work. The process is also something totally new, totally other, totally outside, knocking us upside the head with greatness we can barely fathom. The process of going and seeing, the process of studying the edges of the unknown prepare us for transformation. That meeting of something deep inside with something galaxies away is sacred. We can celebrate Epiphany by being our own, very ordinary version of the Magi and Newton. I want to be a very ordinary person equally committed to my work and open to revelation that will invite me to put my work down in shock and awe.

Gospel Reflection for January 5, Epiphany Sunday

30 Dec
Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews?  We saw his star at its rising and have come to pay him homage.”

Matthew 2.2

The gospel tells us little about the foreigners who come to worship Jesus, but we have clothed them in rich detail.  Why?  Maybe because the strangers take such a big risk in following the star.  They leave the comforts of their homes, take a long trip, and outwit a king anxious for his crown.  They don’t know where they are going or what they will find when they get there.  In other words, they are model believers and seekers of truth.


Where have you journeyed to find hope in transcendent meaning in your life?  What did you find?

 

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What does Epiphany mean to you?

3 Jan

“My friend Darwin lives in the country. He’s a teacher, but sometimes wishes he were a farmer. Darwin says that once he was in a “visioning” workshop where the leader asked participants to close their eyes and imagine the happiest, most wonderful experience they could think of.

What came to Darwin’s mind was the image of a great gathering at a farm. His friends, neighbors, and many people that he did not even know were working together with him to bring in the crops, enjoying each others’ company, and celebrating the bountiful harvest.

Darwin’s vision comes to mind when I think of Epiphany.”

This excerpt from Sunday By Sunday is by Bill Moore.

 

Gospel Reflection for January 6, 2013, Epiphany

2 Jan

After Jesus’ birth, magi from the east followed a star in hopes of finding the messiah.

On entering the house, they found the child with Mary, his mother.  They knelt down and paid him homage.  Then they opened their coffers and presented him with gifts of gold frankincense and myrrh.

Matthew 2.11

Jesus is not only the leader/savior God promised the chosen people.  Jesus has come also for the rest of humankind.  That is the meaning of the main Christmas story in Matthew’s gospel, the visit of the magi.  Jesus is not only king of the Jews, but the hope of the Gentiles, all the non-Jewish people of the earth—us.

Only Matthew tells of the wise visitors from the East.  The story introduces a major theme of his gospel: The inclusion of the
Gentiles in the promises of Jesus.

What insight and guidance does the Epiphany story offer regarding tensions among Christians, Muslims, and Jews today?

Epiphany

11 Jan

Facebook, Google and a multitude of Global Positioning Systems make it almost impossible for people to be anonymous today.  Websites and articles at our fingertips can prove or disprove almost every mystery we encounter. We share information with people we don’t even know.

Maybe that is why the story of the Magi is so enthralling.  It is a symbolic journey of faith animated by a star, confirmed by those who know Israel’s history.  It’s a treasure hunt of sorts.  What is the prize under the X?  A family circle–a child and its parents.  

Most of us are too skeptical for a story like this. A great thing about being human is that we can always change.  Conversion, turning away from and turning toward, is a capacity we have.  We can become more and respond to mystery.  We simply have to pay attention, see the star that is calling us, find some traveling companions, and set out.  The divine awaits on every horizon.

 

A Gospel Reflection for January 8, Epiphany

3 Jan
The magi were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house, found the child with Mary, his mother.  They prostrated themselves and did him homage.  Then they opened their coffers and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Matthew 2.10-11

Matthew’s learned Gentiles, the magi, discover through their study of the heavens a new star that sets them on an earthly journey.  The star leads them to Jerusalem, where they consult Israel’s priests and scribes.  Gentile knowledge and Israelite revelation agree; both point to Bethlehem and Jesus. The wise pilgrims from afar journey on to Bethlehem. There they find Jesus and give him their gifts and their love.  Epiphany celebrates the manifestation of Jesus to Gentile seekers.

What has happened in your life that compelled you to search for more meaning?

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