Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Feast of the Epiphany; 6 January 2013

The Feast of the Epiphany has always held an extra layer of poignancy for me because it was my wedding day. Each year, as I joined the church in celebrating the manifestation of God’s presence in the midst of the created order - and the massive, monumental changes that God’s presence brings - there was always a part of me thinking of an entirely different upheaval that 6 January 1990 brought to my life. 

Upheaval - and the resistance of the keepers of the status quo - is the central theme of Epiphany, and the upheaval inflicted upon the world when God’s self is made manifest has implications both personal and societal. These implications shine out in the scripture lessons for the day: the refugees of Israel are returned to their home, gentiles are made co-heirs with Israel, and a baby born in poverty is the true King.

In 2010, Jennifer E. Copeland invited readers of Homily Service to reflect upon the way in which Epiphany raises our eyes from the quaintness of the baby in the manger, to the world-changing reality of God’s incarnation in Jesus Christ
Matthew’s story is not one of shepherds and stables and poverty. It is a story of wise men and kings, palaces and power. It is not the fuzzy warm Christmas narrative that the Gospel of Luke gives us. It is a story of tyranny and betrayal as Herod fears for his throne and the wise men realize they must protect the life of this little babe. It is the struggle for power between a king who carries the official Roman title and yet is not a king, and a little baby who carries no titles and yet is the greatest king of all. And for us, it’s a story about people who were once excluded from God’s saving grace, who are now included - people who become heirs to the promises made to Abraham and David and who now sit at the same table with Jesus the Christ. These travelers from the east represent the world and the world’s recognition that everyone is now numbered among the people of God - and we are included.
In this time of political tension and social upheaval, how do you plan to use the Feast of the Epiphany to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”?

Jennifer E. Copeland, “3/6 January 2010: Epiphany Sunday; Epiphany DayHomily Service, 43:1, 87-88.

Jennifer E. Copeland is a United Methodist Chaplain at Duke University and director of the Duke Wesley Fellowship.

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