I adore Epiphany.
At our property we celebrate Epiphany ideal just after dinner on January six, the Feast of the Epiphany in liturgical traditions. We turn off each and every light in our apartment. Then we recite the words from John 1, “What has come into getting in him was life and the life was the light of all people today.” Then we light a candle and go area-to-area inviting the light of Christ to fill each and every space in our apartment. We chalk our door with a blessing. We sprinkle holy water everywhere. And we sing “Joy to the World” as enthusiastically as the 4 of us can handle.
It seriously is good enjoyable. Subsequent year you are all invited to the feast.
But essentially, you nonetheless can celebrate Epiphany. In numerous liturgical traditions, Epiphany is a season, beginning on January six and continuing till Ash Wednesday, when the 40 days of Lent start. And as I stated, I adore it. Epiphany is exactly where “O Come Let Us Adore Him” becomes “Go Inform It on the Mountain.” In Advent we spin inward in an work to make area for Jesus’ coming. At Christmas we celebrate the lovely and scandalous birth of Jesus. And in Epiphany we are sent out with the light of the beauty of the glory of Jesus shining in our faces to announce the great news. The darkness is previous. A new day has come. The light has shined in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.
Light is the preeminent symbol of Epiphany. There’s an irony right here. We speak of and celebrate light as a church in the heart of the season when our hemisphere appears wrapped in darkness. We know people today who sit in front of complete spectrum lights this time of year to aid regulate their physique to the diminished light. Numerous of us are up prior to dawn and return property just after dusk.
Moving from the physical universe to the symbolic, the irony deepens. Our society is fragmented and fragmenting at an alarming price. Individuals are crying out for function, for justice, for safety, for hope. The darkness is thick certainly. I feel of the words of Hosea four: “There is no faithfulness or loyalty, and no expertise of God in the land. Swearing, lying, and murder, and stealing and adultery break out bloodshed follows bloodshed. For that reason the land mourns, and all who reside in it languish with each other with the wild animals and the birds of the air, even the fish of the sea are perishing.”
And so, our loved ones sits in darkness. The darkness whispers its formless menace. And a candle is lit.
To be clear, Epiphany is not for the faint of heart. It is not a season for idealists who think that factors are fundamentally great and finding improved, but then collapse in cynicism when confronted with darkness. Epiphany beckons us to come to the light of Jesus Christ. Epiphany calls us to stare into that light till our inner darkness is totally expunged. Epiphany then sends us out into a dark and weary planet as females and males with shining faces, till we say with the apostle Paul, “It is the God who stated, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the expertise of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
The most literal illustration I can feel of for this comes from the sixth film in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Toward the finish of the film there is a tragic death that has been orchestrated by evil. The mission that brought about this death appears utterly futile. And hovering above this iconic fallen hero is the dark mark. The dark mark is an apparition in the clouds in the shape of a skull with a serpent protruding from its jaws. The mark is a symbol of intimidation. It taunts these who could possibly resist with the indomitable energy of evil.
In this scene, as the students collect in shock and horror, professor McGonagall silently lifts her wand. The finish glows, like a candle, with a white light. Silently the other folks start to do the identical. A lot more and a lot more wands go in the air. White lights like candles mark the scene. The light reflects against the dark mark, and in a way that is each mysterious and lovely, the dark mark dissolves from inside.
This is not a sentimental moment. It is a moment of defiance. Holding up a light in a dark spot is a harmful point to do. Possibly that is why we obtain it so really hard.
John three:19 says, “Light has come into the planet, but people today loved darkness as an alternative of light mainly because their deeds have been evil.” Holding up a candle dangers exposure. Holding up a candle dangers confrontation with the powers that thrive in the dark.
God’s contact to us in Epiphany is to hold up a candle. We are getting invited to make that move from coming and adoring to going and telling.
Each time the church emphasizes one particular of these to the exclusion of the other she gets distorted. When the church emphasizes “go and inform it” more than “come let us adore him” she becomes hollow. Worship becomes spectacle. Eventually this church loses itself. But when the church emphasizes adoration and inner properly-getting more than “go and tell” it becomes anemic, timid, and sanctimonious.
We are healthiest as the people today of God when we stare into the light of Jesus till our hearts burn inside us and then we go out into the areas we reside, function, and play with faces that radiate this light. To quote Paul once again, “And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as even though reflected in a mirror, are getting transformed into the identical image from one particular degree of glory to a further for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.”
So how do we radiate the light of Christ? Right here are a handful of seriously sensible strategies in this season of Epiphany.
Radiating the Light of Christ Personally
How are you radiating the light of Christ in your life as an person? What practices warm your heart to the reality of Jesus’ presence with you? How considerably time each and every day are you setting aside to sit in the presence of Jesus without having any plans other than to know his adore for you?
I study a statistic lately that stated numerous clergy (up to 70% in some circumstances)—people you’d count on to be close with God mainly because their function appears so closely dependent on it—pray for an typical of 10 minutes a day.
How’s that going for you? Do you extended for a lot more?
This week I’d just invite you to preserve track. How considerably time are you essentially spending consciously conscious of the presence of God, enabling his light to fill you?
We can’t give away what we do not have. A life of intimacy with God is not possible without having spending time with God. For our face to shine with the light of Christ, we have to invest time beholding his glory. (It must maybe go without having saying that to gaze on the face of Jesus is to turn our gaze away from ourselves. This is medicine we sorely require in a narcissistic age.)
The greatest way that I know to sit in the presence of God is to do what Christians have carried out all through the centuries, the easy practice of holy reading. In holy reading you function your way by way of a section of Scripture gradually, attentively, asking just, “How does this passage of Scripture point me to Jesus?”
So this week spend focus to your time with God. Probably look at holy reading.
Radiating the Light of Christ Relationally
It has constantly been the norm for Christian witness to take spot in neighborhood. Our faces shine with the light of Christ with each other. We reflect the beauty and glory of Jesus greatest when we are connected to other folks in neighborhood.
How is that going for you? Are you a portion of a neighborhood, whether or not a residence church, or a ministry group, or a wellness circle? Is there space at your table for an individual from a distinct generation, marital status, or educational background?
I’m convinced that there is nothing at all that improved reflects the glory, beauty, and majesty of Jesus than when we the Church reside and function with each other in unity and neighborhood. We are blessed to be a multi-generational, multiethnic, economically diverse Church. Let’s reside into that this Epiphany.
When we are hunting into the face of Jesus with each other with other folks, then it becomes all-natural to invite the people today we reside with, function with, and play with to practical experience that life as properly.
So this week ask your self, “Who am I connected with at church? Who are the people today I’m connected to outdoors of church who require life with God?”
Radiating the Light of Christ as the Church
There is so considerably that shines with a holy light in the neighborhood of the Church. But, I worry, how very easily we can miss the holy light. God is calling us to awaken to the holiness of Jesus present in our neighborhood and then to share this light with other folks.
Let me be clear: I’m not telling you to share what a good church you have. This is just preaching about ourselves. No. We preach Christ and him crucified, and raised from the dead. We preach repentance and forgiveness of sin. We preach life in the gospel. We preach this as witnesses of the holy light of Christ. We hold up our candle. Our faces shine.
I adore Epiphany. I adore Epiphany mainly because I adore Jesus. The beauty and majesty of the glory of God as reflected in this scandalous and holy life captivates me. And I am convinced that the only hope for our dark, dark planet is the light of Jesus.
My candle is my words. My candle is my willingness to stand with you and dare you to stare into the beauty of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection till you are undone. My candle is to beat the drum of witness and sound the contact to turn out into that spot exactly where you reside, function, and play with a face shining and a candle burning vibrant.
Will you join me?
For a lot more on Epiphany, download a free of charge devotional right here.