Epiphany 2014

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On, or near January 6th, the twelfth day of Christmas, the wise men or magi from the East finally get their day on the Christian calendar. By then, they will have appeared in many nativity plays, but I’m glad they get their own day, and that we call it Epiphany.

Epiphany is an event in which one sees or understands something new. It is good then that their day is the first Christian holy day in the new year. One new thing revealed through the visit of the wise men from the east was that God’s family includes outsiders. All kinds of strangers are strangers no more, but can confidently say, “I belong” and offer the church their gifts.

That is the good news of Epiphany for me this year!

The earliest Christians were Jews. In Jesus they saw God’s deliverer, in whom the reign of God on earth was finding its fulfillment. Isn’t it fascinating that the earliest stories they recorded about his life already include this openness to receiving gifts from strangers? I’m sure learning that lesson included some painful stretching for them, especially as the early church grew to include Gentiles.  They must have searched texts from Hebrew Scriptures to help them understand the coming of the wise men. The answers they found are within the lectionary texts for this Sunday, in Psalm 72, and in Isaiah 60. I suspect finding these connections helped them open their hearts to Gentiles who had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit but were so very different from them in culture and diet.

How does Epiphany speak to us and our challenges? Does it help us celebrate the great diversity of God’s family? Can celebrating the visit of the wise men, help us accept gifts and wisdom from strangers in our midst? Can their stories help break down the barriers among us between insiders and outsiders, between the strong and the weak, rich and poor, young and old?

I believe that this breaking down of barriers, of opening ourselves up to be blessed by the strangers who enter our lives, is the real gift of Epiphany.  It is a gift I want to treasure in my heart and one I hope will help me start the New Year well.  

What is helping you start your new year? I’d love to hear about it.

 

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About Elsie Hannah Ruth Rempel

As a young senior whose life could easily have ended in a nasty car crash in 2012 I live with an extra dose of gratitude to God, humanity, and the wonders of our human bodies. I am a passionate advocate for ministry WITH children and seniors in the life and ministry of the church. I started working in Faith Formation with Mennonite Church Canada in 2002. Thinking and writing about faith helps me see God at work in all kinds of surprising places. I'd like to be remembered as one who encourages others to live into God's good dream for our world. My book, Please Pass the Faith: The Spiritual Art of Grandparenting, is one big way I'm trying to share that encouragement with my peers. This blog is another way I'd like to engage people who care about growing in faith across the generations.
This entry was posted in Church season, Congregational life, Cross cultural faith community, Senior Spirituality and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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