I love to tell stories about Woodlawn Chapel, and I hope you do as well. I love to share the stories of how we care for each other, and how that love is particularly apparent in times of distress. I love to tell stories of acolytes trying to light the candles, reaching high and missing, only to receive help from a friend. I love to tell stories of how we laugh together, and how we have welcomed such a broad diversity of people to our church.
I love to tell how we’re messy and broken but still trying.
In 2019, I invite you to discover the story of your faith and to begin that discovery in the season of Epiphany.Of all the dates in the church calendar, Epiphany is perhaps the most overlooked. Since most of us are still in holiday-recovery mode, its not easy to get our sites set on yet another celebration. No one says, “Save me a seat on Epiphany,” especially since January 6 only rarely falls on a Sunday. To compensate, we’ve moved the magi closer to the manger, commingling them with the shepherds and sheep and condensing Christmas into one day.
But recovering Epiphany and the Sundays following are essential. Our attention shifts from the wrappings and tinsel of Christmas to the gift itself. We follow the magi on their mysterious, awe-inspiring quest, we allow the light of the star to flood us with hope, and we grow in our understanding of “the good news of great joy for all the people.”
Epiphany is an invitation to see what God is doing in the world, and to see where we might join in that work. When we read about the magi in Matthew, we hear again the good news of Christ is for all people. That these astrologers from other countries and religious traditions should come seeking the king of the Jews is a reminder that God’s love is offered to all people. As Jill Duffield, editor of the Presbyterian Outlook, notes:
It appears that God relished diversity and inclusion long before such goals became the responsibility of human resource departments, college administrators and appointed faith leaders. God shines light upon the people of Israel not for their own sake alone, but for the sake of the nations. So reflective of God’s glory will the Jewish people be that other peoples will be drawn to them and these other peoples shall also be radiant as a result.
For the next several weeks, our worship themes will reflect some of the themes of Epiphany – including baptism, being guided by the light of a star, and discovering how it is that we are called in our own lives to share the good news that Christ is born. The church has a wonderful story to tell – and now is a great time to learn how to tell it.