Our new year is one-week old. Huzzah! Gentle Reader, how have you spent these first, crisp days of your newest chapter?
This past week also marks the end of our advent season as this year’s Epiphany day has now passed. For a beginning, there are certainly may endings at hand.
Indeed, another conclusion for those following a liturgical calendar (or common sense) ... the holiday décor has now been responsibly put away for another year at the end of twelve days of high celebration between Christmas Day and January 6th. Epiphany, or the last day of the big shindig, recognizes both the baptism of Jesus and the visit of the three kings (obviously early Christian’s didn’t mind a good combo event). Maybe you know this celebration better as Three Kings Day and have delighted in the day’s traditional cake because...cake!
With or without the cake (and my preference is always with), it’s an interesting time to reflect on all the new plans and dreams you’ve had over Christmas...to think about the “mountain-top” moments we’ve had during the advent season and consider which of these ideas we will take with us into the coming weeks. Now is a quiet time for the liturgical calendar with Lent a still a bit away. These next few weeks are a middle time...the endings have occurred; the beginnings have begun. The now what’s have arrived.
I’d like to recommend a time of reflection, of planning, of purpose. I’m not suggesting we get too bogged down in this time, but it seems like the frost-covered world models a good way to spend the next little while. We may appear as dormant as the leafless trees and snow-buried ground (alright, in Texas we have ice and dead grass which is far less poetic), but we are preparing. May we use this time to ready our hearts and minds for the work ahead of us...and there is much to be done. There are wrongs to right and people to help and hearts to love. Our church calendar offers us the insight that times of solace and times of grief lie ahead of us...times of discipline and times of rejoicing...even times of harvest and times for future cheer. We can rush ahead to these or we can take but a moment now in order to be ready then.
I leave you, my friends, to ponder this notion with an Epiphany Prayer that says more than I could:
Father, we thank you for revealing yourself to us in Jesus the Christ, we who once were not your people but whom you chose to adopt as your people. As ancient Israel confessed long ago, we realize that it was not because of our own righteousness, or our own superior wisdom, or strength, or power, or numbers. It was simply because you loved us, and chose to show us that love in Jesus.
As you have accepted us when we did not deserve your love, will you help us to accept those whom we find it hard to love? Forgive us, O Lord, for any attitude that we harbor that on any level sees ourselves as better or more righteous than others. Will you help us to remove the barriers of prejudice and to tear down the walls of bigotry, religious or social? O Lord, help us realize that the walls that we erect for others only form our own prisons!
Will you fill us so full of your love that there is no more room for intolerance. As you have forgiven us much, will you enable us with your strength to forgive others even more? Will you enable us through your abiding Presence among us, communally and individually, to live our lives in a manner worthy of the Name we bear?
May we, through your guidance and our faithful obedience, find new avenues in ways that we have not imagined of holding the Light of your love so that it may be a Light of revelation for all people.
We thank you for your love, praise you for your Gift, ask for your continued Presence with us, and bring these petitions in the name of your Son, who has truly revealed your heart. Amen.