Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Clouds and light: Epiphany 2016

The Sea of Galilee at dawn
Photo by James Richardson, copyright 2011
As I write this, it is still early and very dark outside here in Sonoma County. It is raining – El NiƱo is finally here (and we need the rain) but with it flash flood warnings.

Today is the Feast of the Epiphany, the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas, and as tradition holds, the day the wise men arrive at the crib of Jesus. This also begins a relatively short season on the Church calendar, the season of the Epiphany – the “season of light.”

But the sun will be hard to see today, and the light is hard to see in our very troubled and violent world.

Wars, refugees, mean-spirited partisan politics, armed right-wing insurrectionists in Oregon, and saber rattling from North Korea all top the news today on this Epiphany 2016.

The readings in the Daily Office today don’t really proclaim “light” but rather proclaim deeper truths transcending momentary clouds and storms.

Epiphany is speaking to me this year in a way that I had not noticed before. This ancient feast day is really not about wise men at all, but rather about an ancient truth: Jesus goes to the Cross not to pay off a bloodthirsty God, but to suffer as we suffer, die as we die, and then to show us a way beyond the Cross to hope and healing.

He goes to the depths of hell itself to rescue us from death and bring new life – Resurrection – into those corners of our lives and the world that need it most. In Epiphany, we get a mini-version of Holy Week and Easter, painted so vividly in the poetic language of the ancients:

From Isaiah 49:1-7:

“I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” 

From Revelation 21:22-27: 

“And the city has no need of sun or moon on it, for the glory of God us its light, and its lamp is the Lamb…It’s gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.” 

From Matthew 12:14-21: 

“He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick until he brings justice to victory. And in his name the Gentiles will hope.” 

The Collect for Epiphany (Book of Common Prayer p. 214) 

O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the people of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.  

Emmaus Table, James Richardson

1 comment:

  1. This is so beautiful, Jim...the imagery of the Galilee photo and of light. I appreciate most the reminder that Jesus's death was not to placate a God of judgment but "to show us a way beyond the cross to hope and healing."