I am writing this devotional on Epiphany. It is the 12th day after Christmas and it is a cloudy, dreary day. A little sunlight and warmth might have been nice for the day we are supposed to celebrate the light of Christ made manifest in our world! On Epiphany, we typically think of the visit of the wise men to Jesus, and the light of the star that guided their way. And we think about our hopes for the new year, and the ways in which we will participate in sharing God’s light and love with a hurting world. Yesterday in Children’s Sunday School, we had our annual Epiphany Fair. The highlight of this event is always the cupcakes! (Snacks are always the highlight of any event.) Three lucky kids received a trinket in their cupcake and became the honored wise ones (this year 2 girls and 1 boy) who got to wear our fancy kings’ crowns in the Epiphany parade! Other kids carry gifts (for the baby Jesus) and lead the parade with bright gold stars. It’s fun and special and hopefully creates good memories as we begin the season of Epiphany. Because we need those good memories and reminders of the light. Because Epiphany for “grown-ups,” while it celebrates the same themes, makes us more aware of the tyrant king Herod and the violent aftermath of the Wise Men’s visit bringing news of a supposed challenger (in the form of a tiny baby) to Herod’s throne. Because we’re more aware than ever of the need for God’s light to shine in our darkness.
So maybe the clouds and dreariness as I write are appropriate, because it’s been a little hard to feel very Christmas-y during the last 12 days. Australia is on fire, and even when that devastation is past, the larger devastation of global climate change will remain. And talk of World War III fills our news feeds. And anti-Semitism, along with other forms of bigotry are rising at an alarming rate. I know that I need Epiphany. I need to be reminded that God’s light can illuminate every darkness, even when I can’t imagine it. I need to know that like the Wise Men, we can always choose another way home, and that tyrants do not have the last say. I need to know that the light Jesus brings is not just for me and people like me, but also for Wise Men from the East – or children from Iran, or families at our southern border, or homeowners and firefighters and animals in Australia. Sometimes I just need to know it, and believe it – no matter how unreal it may seem – and I rely on the rhythm of the church seasons to help me with that. Teaching children about those seasons also helps me with that.
Our Epiphany parade stopped at various places throughout the church and we said a blessing – at the sanctuary doors, the front door of the church, the nursery, etc. This is a variation of an Epiphany House Blessing – an old tradition called “chalking the door” where you write a symbol of blessing above your door and say a prayer for the new year. If you’d like to observe this tradition at home, we have a few kits left in the sanctuary so you can chalk your own Epiphany reminder on your door. Remind yourself that God came to earth. That transformation is possible. That the light shines in the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it.
God of Peace, bless our homes and all who enter through our doors. May all who come enter in peace and find love and light. May love and joy overflow into our world. May Christ dwell in our homes and in our hearts. Amen.