The season of Epiphany encompasses the eight weeks between the festivals of the Baptism of Our Lord and the Transfiguration. During the final weeks of Epiphany we experience some of the most well-known texts in the Bible, from John the Baptists Here is the Lamb of God to Micah’s What does the Lord require of you? To do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God to Jesus’ powerful Sermon of the Mount, beginning with the Beatitudes.
People often consider this time after Christmas as a long hiatus before the season of Lent begins; but, if they do, they are missing some very important messages focusing on how Christ transforms our lives by calling us to experience the joy, the struggle, and complexities of the Christian life. The Gospel messages throughout this season finds Jesus hard at work teaching, healing, calling disciples, and preaching on the mountain. Again and again we hear the themes of light, baptism, cross, and discipleship.
We are also reminded during the season of Epiphany that the goodness and justice of God extend far beyond our community of faith into all parts of the world and among all people. We are not meant to just hear the words of these scripture passages; we are also meant to be advocates for applying them in everyday life.
Epiphany could well be called a growing season for the church and for its mission. How can each of us cultivate new and exciting ways of serving God and one another? What can we do for the sake of the gospel that we may never have done before. Can we leave our comfort zones in order to minister to the poor, the afflicted, the grieving, the dying, and the persecuted? I should hope so, and I encourage you to give this some serious and prayerful thought.
As the hymn says:
“Listen, God is calling, through the word inviting,
offering forgiveness, comfort and joy.
Jesus gave his mandate: share the good news
that he came to save us and set us free.”
On the thirteenth day after Christmas, Christians celebrate The Epiphany of Our Lord, which means that the Epiphany of our Lord is always on January 6. The word Epiphany means manifestation. It is on this day that we celebrate the arrival of the magi in Bethlehem to pay homage to the Christ child. It is also on the days after the Epiphany that we recount Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River and his first miracle of changing water into wine. Of course, we know that Jesus manifests himself in so many ways to his disciples in the world today; but during these days prior to the beginning of Lent (which comes in early February this year) we have the opportunity to reflect upon how it is that we, as Jesus’ disciples, can make him known to others in our communities and throughout the world.
Even if you find it difficult to verbally witness to others about Jesus, you still have numerous opportunities to witness through your actions and deeds of kindness to others. One way to start that requires no risk-taking is by praying for those who are experiencing prejudice, abuse, or neglect; and what about those who are depressed, or ill, or grieving. Praying for them by name is empowering both for you and for those for whom you are praying. Make a habit every day of praying for others by name, because this personalizes our prayers and brings us closer to those who need to know that they are important to God and to us.
Another way to witness about Jesus to others does require some risk; but it is worth it. Be a volunteer in the community; you can certainly start in your own congregation with the ministries that Grace supports. Doing something to actually bring hope to another person helps us to understand Jesus’ compassion and love for humanity. It also helps to widen our own perspective of what it means to be a good neighbor, even to those whom we either don’t know, or hardly know. The more we do for others, the easier it becomes to take those risks to manifest, or make Christ known in both deed and word.
If you have made no other resolution for this year, make this one: To be bold in your witness on behalf of the one you call Lord.
Yours in Christ,