The twelve days of Christmas are rushing by us. That means cleaning up the decorations and finishing the leftovers. A new year, a new decade, is upon us. That means it is time for resolutions and new beginnings. In the Church, the next festival is January 6th – The Epiphany of Our Lord. That means we celebrate the way in which God is revealed to us in Christ’s incarnation, teaching, ministry, death and resurrection.
Epiphany can also be a moment when all three of the moments coalesce. More than just a historical remembrance of wise men, miracles, and wise teachings that happened 2,000 years ago, Epiphany is a time to look for the revelation of God in our midst – today, in this very hour. For us, the resurrected Jesus is manifest, revealed, made known in our age through his body. Paul is quite clear that, “we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.” (Romans 12:5)
Think about what that means. If Christ is to manifest, reveal, disclose, point to, or proclaim the divine truth all around us, it will happen in his body – aka, me and you. I’ve been told that people meet God on the golf course; that God is found in beautiful sunsets and in the crashing waves of the ocean. That is well and good. How many times has someone said of us, as a congregation, or of you that we have been an epiphany of divine grace and love?
That gets me back to cleaning up and making resolutions for a new year and decade. First, maybe this time of year is a time to clean up the parts of our life that keep us from revealing God’s love to one another and the world. The old-fashioned word for this in the Church is “confession.” Second, it is a time to make changes that allow us to become, as Luther said, “little Christs” in our daily life; for us to be the way people, neighbors, beloved creatures see God right in front of their eyes. The old-fashioned Church word for this is “repentance.”
We live in a world where the Church seems less relevant to more people each passing day. I wonder if that is because none of our tradition-bound, rule-keeping, comfortable religion ever manages to manifest the love of God to those who are desperately looking for something – anything – that will give them hope. Maybe if we engaged in some confession and repentance, we could actually resolve to be Jesus – the body of Christ. Maybe if people actually see God in the world; if an epiphany happens right in front of them, they might find something in which they can believe.
Maybe we can dare to manifest God’s love this year. Maybe we can, as a congregation and as individuals, be an epiphany. What will that look like for you?
Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. Blessed Epiphany to you.
Pax Christi – Pastor Tim Olson