Story By Rev. Kerith Harding
“When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.” [Matthew 2:9-12 ]
At the feast of the Epiphany, we imagine the wise men as they arrive at the manger scene. They have come, along with untold other sorts and conditions of shepherds and angels, men and beasts, to kneel in the hay at the feet of the Christ child.
The season of Epiphany begins on January 6th and continues until Ash Wednesday. The word “Epiphany” means making God manifest. What we “do” in this season is in response to God’s great gift to us in Christmas. In the same way that the wise men traveled to kneel in the hay, so too do we consider how we will respond to this gift, and how we will work to make God manifest in our lives and in the world.
As many of you already know, this season I have encouraged those who are interested to join me in honoring God’s gift by taking part in a ritual of life we are calling “2014” (or 20-1-4). About 15-20 people have committed themselves to the ritual, which involves 20 minutes of prayer a day, one hour of worship a week, and four hours of service a month (or one hour a week). Some have also taken on a commitment to pray for a fellow participant throughout the process, and others have chosen to join in the forum I am offering on Thursdays called “Praying with Scripture”. If you are interested, and haven’t decided yet to make the commitment, please don’t hesitate to come in and meet with me so that I can help support you on your journey. We remember the words of our guest preacher from January 5th – always, begin again. It is never too late to start or re-start a spiritual practice.
I am also aware that for some, this ritual of life may feel like too much to take on at this point. For those of you who fit this description, I’d like to commend to you another simple and yet powerful practice this Epiphany. As you go through your days, consider this: as you sit this season in the hay at the feet of the Christ child… as you follow him through his Baptism and early ministry… look around you. Who else kneels next to you on the hay? Who else, like you, is simply a pilgrim trying to do their best, and likely, like you (and me!) falling short more often than not? As you do this; as you begin to be conscious on a daily basis that all God’s children are very much like you, at some unique place on their own spiritual pilgrimage, you will slowly begin to see the eyes of God behind the eyes of every person you meet. And in doing so, the way you relate to others, the ways you negotiate potential conflict and other circumstances, will change in positive and life-giving ways. What a great and amazing gift.