Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ's glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
-- BCP, page 215
1 Samuel 3:1-20; Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17;
1 Corinthians 6:12-20; John 1:43-51
1 Corinthians 6:12-20; John 1:43-51
An epiphany is a divine appearance or manifestation, God's self-disclosure in some form. The Epiphany is the astounding proclamation that "in the mystery of the Word made flesh, [God has] caused a new light to shine in our hearts, to give the knowledge of [God's] glory in the face of [God's] Son Jesus Christ our Lord." (Preface for Epiphany, BCP, page 378.)
Epiphany Tide makes two particular claims. First, it claims Jesus as God's eternal Logos ("Word," in John's gospel) who has entered human life in the flesh. Second, it affirms that this specific self-revealing of God is not private but public, not tribal but universal.
The story of the Incarnation (the first claim of Epiphany Tide) is told in the Christmas season, so I won't dwell on that in this brief space.
The universality of Jesus, however, is both the great glory and the scandal of this season, indeed of the Christian narrative itself.
The glory of this season is first of all that Jesus had a public life that was not confined to his few followers. The revelation of Jesus as the Christ, the Anointed of God, is not private. He never limited himself to a few illuminati. I choose that word intentionally, since both the collect of this day and the preface of the season speak of a light that shines in us. The reception of the "light of the world" is not so that we may secretly enjoy the warmth and radiance of enlightenment in our safe little tribal enclaves or in the seclusion of our private lives. No. The Light comes to us so that it may shine through us to the whole world.
"Come and see," said Philip to Nathanael, inviting him to meet Jesus. You don't hoard the Good News; you share it. Just like when something incredibly good happens to us and we rush to tell the people we know and love, so is our sharing the love of Jesus: not merely something we are called to do, but something that we can't help but do. It is a glorious thing that we get to participate in the sharing of the Light of the World.
We invite others to meet Jesus. To folks who are not connected in a faith community, to those who are seeking meaning and purpose, to those who hunger and thirst for a better world, to all who struggle for peace in their hearts -- to all we say: Come to Emmanuel and see.
The scandal of this season, and of the Christian community itself, is that you and I know that we Christians are the biggest impediment to anyone wanting to hear about, much less get to know, Jesus. Individually and as communities, we in the many branches of the Christian family give Jesus a bad name. Our pettiness, our divisions, our self-righteousness, and on and on goes the list-in so many ways, we fail to share the Good News with our stunted hearts and small souls.
All of which makes the Collect of Epiphany 2 so relevant. The petition is pretty simple: Please, God! May the illumination we have received so shine in and through us that the world may know your love!
May we fervently pray this collect and be ready to rise from our knees empowered to share the love of Jesus in word and deed.
Under the Mercy,