The Rector's Weekly Column

Rev. Victor H. Morgan


 

         Most people, both those who attend church and don't, recognise the major seasons and days in the Christian year. The mention of Christmas, Lent Good Friday and Easter provokes no puzzled looks. "Epiphany" does.

         I remember a man who had attended church most of his life saying, "I never can remember what this Epiphany thing is about? I don't remember exactly how I responded, but I probably said something to the effect that Epiphany reminds us this thing we call Christianity is for the world. "Christ for the world we sing, the world to Christ we bring," opens a hymn often sung at this season.

         By way of background, "Epiphany" comes from the Greek and means manifestation. In this season that immediately follows Christmas and begins January 6, Christians celebrate God's light breaking into the world through the sending of His Son Jesus. "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee," wrote the prophet Isaiah 700 years before Jesus' coming.

         In the same chapter -- Isaiah 60 -- he speaks of those not seeking a Saviour or Messiah finding one. "The Gentiles [the nations] shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising."

         The day Isaiah saw from afar dawned with the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem of Judah. In Christian tradition, the Wise Men who came bringing their gifts rich and rare represent the first-fruits of those outside the covenant family seeing and being drawn to the light of Christ.

         The glory of the promised Messiah was revealed to a number of others as well, including representatives of Jesus' own people. At the wedding of Cana, Jesus revealed his power over creation by changing water into wine. John's account in Chapter 3 of his Gospel ends with these words: "This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him."

         It seems to me that a good way of thinking about Christ's light shining into the world is to imagine waters of a placid pond being struck by a pebble. What happens? Ever-expanding circles begin to appear. This is what happened with the coming of Jesus. The news began to spread. More than that, this expansion continues down to this very day. All those who have been united to Jesus in faith and baptism are called to reflect His glory into the world.

         When Jesus set forth the charter of His royal rule in the discourse we have come to know as the Sermon on the Mount, He told his hearers: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).

         That remains our calling as Christians today. In this season of light, I encourage you to look for definite ways of being a light-bearer in your community.

         Do you know any lonely people? Visit them. Do you know anyone (because of the bitterly cold weather we have been having) who need a hot meal or firewood? Do what you can to meet that need.

         Opportunities for being an Epiphany Christian abound if we have eyes to see and ears to hear and a heart to respond.

         O LORD, we beseech thee mercifully to receive the prayers of thy people who call upon thee; and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Rev. Victor H. Morgan is rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Blue Ridge.


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