Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come
The glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth,
And thick clouds cover the peoples
But upon you the Lord shines
And over you appears his glory. (Isaiah 60:1-2)
Today, we celebrate the Feast of Epiphany. Coming toward the end of the Christmas Season, Epiphany continues the theme of light that was started in Advent: Christ as the light of the world; we ourselves as a light to the world; the Magi following a light to encounter God in a newborn child.
We are familiar with the Biblical narrative of the three (or more) wise men (and women) who searched for the Promised One, following their own ‘searchlight’. We are probably also familiar with epiphanies of our own – those “aha” moments when we finally see what we have been looking at all along. To experience an epiphany means to become aware, to look for meaning, and to take a risk of following a path without knowing the exact outcome.
The Feast of Epiphany is also referred to as the Feast of the Three Kings or the Feast of the Magi. Who were these magi in Matthew’s Gospel who set out on a journey of faith? They were serious scholars who believed in science, followed a star, brought the best of what they had as gifts, recognized God in a helpless dependent baby, and listened to their heart (dreams) about finding a better path home. They were outsiders from different cultures, backgrounds, and traditions. In my own life, I often wonder if I trust enough and believe enough to set out for the unknown.
Epiphany is about seeing light and stars and recognizing God in the ordinary events of our lives. The star in the east was there for everyone to see, but only a few were looking for it, and therefore, saw it. God has already found us, but we may need to look for Light in the darkness that surrounds us. Moreover, Epiphany is about being a light and a guiding star for others. Not easy, if we remain in darkness ourselves.
Q. How can we let God shine through us?
Q. How can we manifest a spirit of love and acceptance to all whom we meet on our journey?
After the Magi encountered the Christ, they “went home another way”, that is, they were changed people after the encounter. They recognized the Holy One in human form and their direction was changed because of it. They were no longer the same; they looked at life in a different way. Similar responses occur today. When we recognize the Lord in our ordinary encounters with people, we, too, are changed in some way. We go on “in another way.”
Q. Are we driven as the Wise Men (Wise Women) to seek out God in our lives?
Q. When we recognize God in ordinary life events, do we then go on “in another way?”
One of my favorite hymns on the theme of light Bernadette Farrell’s Christ, Be Our Light (OCP, 1993, 2011). I am including verses 1, 2, and 5 here. (You can find a performance of this song on YouTube by googling the title and composer.)
1. Longing for light, we wait in darkness. Longing for truth, we turn to you.
Make us your own, your holy people, light for the world to see.
Christ, be our light! Shine in our hearts. Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light! Shine in your church gathered today.
2. Longing for peace, our world is troubled. Longing for hope, many despair.
Your word alone has pow’r to save us. Make us your living voice.
5. Many the gifts, many the people, many the hearts that yearn to belong.
Let us be servants to one another, making your kingdom come.
May we see the Light and follow it. May we be generous with our gifts, offering others the best of what we have. May we appreciate the gifts that strangers bring us and the mysteries that they reveal. May we be flexible about changing our routes and about leaving in another way.