I’ve always liked the rhythm of the Church year as it is laid out for us in seasons- Advent, Christmas, Epiphanytide, Lent, etc. and, as one season nears its end, I find myself looking forward to the next- imagining seasonal projects that I’ll take on, books that I’ll read, and shifts that I will make to my spiritual practices to keep myself centered and grounded. I’ve got the makings of a great Lent in store!
On Wednesday, though, we were at our Staff Day in Residence in the Susquehanna Convocation, and during the Eucharist, our preacher and celebrant The Rev. Jim Strader-Sasser, asked us to reflect on our journeys through Epiphany. What?! In my mind I already had one foot in Lent!
I thought about it on the drive home, that night, and reflected on my Epiphany…
Epiphany is sometimes called the “Season of Light.” The Seasonal Blessing that I used in every parish that I visited this Epiphanytide says: “May the Son of God be manifest in you, that your lives may be a light to the world;and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you, always. Amen.”
And so, as I drove down Rt. 11 through Selinsgrove and Liverpool and Duncannon and Halifax, the icy Susquehanna at my side, I thought about the light of Christ- not how I had shared it, but how I had received it, as a gift of God, made manifest in others. I believe that the light of Christ is shining brightly all of the time; sometimes it is a gift that others give intentionally, and sometimes it is just there, emanating from them and we are the ones who happen to soak it up.
I’m not talking about God in Nature, now. That’s an easy go-to for me as we seek the Creator’s divine presence in the world: rainbows, mountain streams, the power of the waves in the ocean, the delicate leaves of a forget-me-not, the marvel of creatures like snails or puff fish or bald eagles… no… I’m talking about the light of Christ as made manifest in our brothers and sisters, revealing the glory of God and the life-affirming Hope of the gospel. That’s maybe a little more personal, and requires a little more vulnerability to reveal. Here goes:
In this Epiphanytide, the light of Christ was made manifest to me in:
- My daughter and son-in-law as they announced that they are expecting a child this summer. The light of hope, energy, love, anticipation, joy, and a little uncertainty is palpably holy as they prepare for a new phase of their lives together.
- Our next-door neighbor who came over to our house while we were off in Hershey having Glenn’s knee fixed, and shoveled our snowy driveway, every inch of it, so that we could get safely up the drive and into the garage. Such love. (And we have a long driveway!)
- The delight of old friends- Glenn’s college roommates- who came for an overnight visit last month. The deep joy of sitting in our living room in pajamas with big mugs of coffee just talking with an easiness and familiarity that is as close as family, and feeling nurtured and restored by that.
- My visit to one of our seminarians at Sewanee and the intensity and seriousness with which she has engaged her spiritual formation and training. The long conversations that we had in a short but powerful visit affirmed for me the call that God has placed on her heart and the urgency of the gospel message for the healing of the nations.
- The amazing prowess of Spanish violinist Francisco Fullana at a chamber music concert early in January at Market St. Presbyterian Church. This young man played with such virtuosity, dexterity, passion and grace. Debussy, Beethoven, Frank, Bartok. Live music never fails to reveal the Glory of God to me. It is a stronghold in my spiritual practices.
- The dedication of the volunteers and the sense of community at the “We Share” program at St. John’s, Marietta, a program for children with special needs, their families and caregivers. We ate pasta, worked on a puzzle, made sock puppet gnomes, sang Happy Birthday and ate cake. The room glistened with God’s light.
- The gathering of hundreds to celebrate the life of The Rev. Kate Harrigan’s son, Josh, who died in Epiphany, tragically, from an overdose. The sturdy grace of our burial rite held the people gathered to support Kate and Bill, and the powerful energy of the community’s presence proclaimed God’s power over death, as evident in resurrection Hope.
That’s some- but surely not all- of God’s light that I received in this Epiphany season.
It’s good to rest for a bit and reflect on it all. To honor the daily, momentary gifts that we receive as the light of Christ, made manifest in others, for the continuing reconciliation of the world, including our own healing.
Long before this opportunity for reflection was made evident to me by Wednesday’s preacher, I had already conceived of my Lenten project which is, not surprisingly, quite similar to what I’ve shared in these pages. (God has a way of working like that…) GOD 640 is a project that I will take on beginning next Wednesday (Ash Wednesday) . GOD 640 is about the shape that the Holy takes in my life and work. I’ll share those outcomes here- and explain more about it- in weekly Lenten installments. (After Easter I’ll resume my once-per-month blogging).
So keep an eye out for GOD 640.
Keep an eye out for God.
The glory of God, working in us- and others- can do more than we can ask or imagine, you know.