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Epiphany and Spiritual Emergence

by The Rev. Dr. James D. Findlay

James FindlayThe Church has given us a great gift:  Christmas is not simply a day of gifts and indoor trees and time shared with family, but a season.  Christmas is its own time, a set of twelve days to honor and bask in the beauty of a birth and new beginnings.  And now, as we enter Epiphany, we again savor a season, a time: a longer set of days in which we celebrate and experience appearance, manifestation, and coming into view.

This echoes the cycles of life in our Northern Hemisphere: we proceed from the Winter Solstice, to the celebration of a New Year and a new time, with steadily lengthening days.  As the world emerges before us after a time of darkness, we see more and grow more.

The Epiphany narrative of Zoroastrian astrologers journeying to Palestine textually begins this time of emergence.  Those at a distance follow a bright light in the deep night darkness.  They travel from the east, land of sunrise and beginnings, to the west, the place of sunset, completion, and rest.  Their goals and gifts are unusual:  a vulnerable infant and a nurturing mother.  And as the text unfolds, we can sense we are each on a similar journey:  from beginning to fullness, movement to rest, guided by light, surrounded by darkness.  Epiphany is thus a sacred time to seek light, to honor the darkness, to cherish the children around and the child within each of us, to celebrate the mother-love we have all received,  and can all give.

Isaiah’s Epiphany texts all speak glowingly and gloriously of light – yet they also acknowledge darkness.  Again, pondering the natural world, we see that darkness is still the great majority of our 24-hour Day cycle of time.  But Isaiah also speaks of a darkness of perception, of peoples and nations obscured or covered by it.  And this is surely a discerning insight for all times, especially our current time:  collective realities, principalities and powers, are often unable to see what the eyes can, and do not respond with compassion or justice.  Yet, the divine light is growing – and most wondrously, WE become the light.  We are given as a light to the nations, and a light to all people.  Thus, Epiphany is for us to savor that this is what God is doing with us: we are being given as sacred lights, and that the light we see in the stars, moon, and sun also shines in us – the light of the Creator, the light of the Spirit, the light of the Christ.  Our lives give light; so our spiritual practice in this Manifestation Season can nurture this light, polishing the mirror in which it reflects, shining ourselves in the simplest and smallest acts of daily living, as well as into the lives of the nations and peoples where we find ourselves.

Paul write to the Corinthians, and to us, of this spiritual reality.  He tells us we are not lacking in any spiritual gift (I Cor. 1:7).  Knowing this, may the emergence time of Epiphany be a season when we are manifested, that our light shines as the Spirit in us and the world grows and glows ever more brightly.

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Note from author: Please feel free to post here at the Conference website, or contact me via e-mail at sleight_of_time@yahoo.com. I wish to engender a conversation among us about how the Word and Spirit are active in our lives, and how we might nurture these gifts further. I also am happy to work with groups and individuals on how to nurture the Word and Spirit among us. Please visit my Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/Spiritual-Accompaniment-Services/219750211459838 as another way of being in this sacred conversation. I look forward to hearing from many of you soon!

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