Scary, Scary Night (Photograph, Vanderbilt RCL site)

For Sunday, January 8, 2012
Isaiah 60

Have you ever had an epiphany? . . . a time in your life where you developed an intuitive grasp of reality through something simple and striking (Websters)?

As a 7th grader I remember playing drums with the junior high jazz band when Mr. Dominiak, our director, suddenly stopped the rehearsal, turned to me, and said, “Steve, you are going to make some money on those some day.”  I remember feeling relieved and surprised that he would stop for anything but a mistake.  This was my epiphany that God had blessed me with some musical ability.

Becoming a Christian often happens through something simple and striking. You realize you are neither alone in this world nor the chance product of random material forces. Maybe it’s a sunrise, maybe it’s a word of encouragement, or maybe it’s an act of kindness. The world suddenly isn’t all darkness, cruelty, and dysfunction.

This is what the Christian season of Epiphany, which begins this week, is all about. When the Magi saw Jesus they had an epiphany based on a star in the sky that something long promised and hoped for had really come. We think of these men as kings but the Greek word used, ‘magos’ , more likely refers to magicians (derived from ‘magos’) or medicine men. Given that they came from either Persia or Arabia they may even have been Zoroastrian priests. These men were not only unchurched, but un-templed as well.

In one of this week’s readings, Isaiah 60, the Epiphany of Jesus is foretold:

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.  For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.

This transforms everything. We are not victims of circumstance but rather ambassadors of the greatest revelation the world has ever known. We have unique insight into the human condition, both in terms of what ails (alienation from God) and what heals  (God’s offer of forgiveness and grace in Jesus).

Let this week be an epiphany of what we possess in Jesus Christ for the good of our own souls as well as the world. How this dark terra forma needs more light.

What’s a favorite epiphany story from your life?


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