Today is the final day of the Christmas season. Tomorrow begins the season of Epiphany. The gift of God was announced by a star and a dazzling host of angels. The Light of God had come into the world to turn it up-side-down, shifting momentum from chaos to shalom.
The arrival of the Magi from the East extended this light beyond Israel, to the farthest reaches of the earth. Epiphany reminds us that Mary’s song (Luke 1:46-55) is mirrored in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). The ways of empire are upended by a new order based not on greed, abuse of power, violence, and hate, but on love for others, self-sacrifice, community, and grace.
My Epiphany challenge is to re-read Jesus’ sermon, beginning with the Beatitudes, asking myself:
- Where do I find myself in Jesus’ radical call to follow him in all of life?
- Beginning right in my own neighborhood and city, where have I been a blessing to those mentioned here? (God often uses us to answer the prayers of others. Am I paying attention and available?)
- Who are my partners in radical discipleship? This is not a journey done alone, it’s a journey undertaken by a community walking together. How are we encouraging each other? How are we holding one another accountable?
- Together with my faith partners, where do we see the need for God’s love, justice, and healing to break through? How might God be calling us to be Jesus’ hands and feet in these places?
- Again, with my faith partners, what challenges to our neighborhood/city can we anticipate during the coming year? Who will be most affected by these issues? How can we prepare now so that we’re ready to respond to those in need?
These are just a few of my questions as I ponder again the meaning of Epiphany. God’s salvation and shalom are for the whole world. In Jesus, God’s desire for Israel to be a blessing to all the nations of the earth is fulfilled… and is being fulfilled. Each one of us is a part of this blessing. As we enter this New Year and encounter Epiphany once more, we can respond, “Here I am, Lord, send me”.
The Beatitudes – Matthew 5:3-12
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.