Tomorrow is the Eve of Epiphany, the last evening of the Christmas season. The following day, January 6th is Epiphany. In the past I have written morning and evening prayers for this coming season, but this year have spent most of my time reflecting on the implications of this season for my life and ministry.
As I wrote in my Epiphany post a couple of years ago:
We have watched and waited through Advent, we have celebrated Christmas and the joy of our Saviour’s birth and now we are being asked to follow, to recognize the revelation of Christ in our midst and journey into the new life he offers us.
The question that has revolved in my is What does the new life of God look like? Where am I following Christ to?
These questions are particularly pertinent as I am also rereading Ann Voskamp’s wonderful book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. Ann points out that the first sin of Adam and Eve in the garden was ingratitude, dissatisfaction with all that God had gifted them with. She contends that the key to finding the fullness of life that God intends for us is learning to be grateful for every moment and every circumstance.
I have lived pain, and my life can tell: I only deepen the wounds of the world when I neglect to give thanks for early light dappled through leaves and the heavy perfume of wild roses in early July… and all the good things that God gives…. rejecting joy to stand in solidarity with the suffering doesn’t rescue the suffering. The converse does. The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world. When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows…..
The only real prayers are the ones mouthed with thankful lips. Because gratitude ushers into the other side of prayer, into the heart of the God-love, and all power to change the world, me, resides here in his love. (p58,60)
The season of Epiphany is an invitation to follow Jesus into the ways of gratitude and joy,. We are no longer bound by the dissatisfaction of our consumer culture that tells us to keep striving for more stuff, more success, more money, more of everything for myself. Instead we are invited to learn to live in the joy and contentment of seeing every moment as a gift from God. As Paul encourages us:
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice… Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand. (Phil 4:4, 6-7)
Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:4,5)
So as we move into Epiphany this year let us do so with joy and gratitude, savouring each moment God gives us as precious gift. Let us show others that we really are content with God alone and need nothing more than the love of God to fill us with joy and gratitude.