Epiphany & After

Epiphany

Today, 6 January is the holy day of Epiphany. That is Christ’s ‘show up to day’, kind of like a debutante ball or a high school athlete’s signing day or – this isn’t a cultural thing for us, but it could be – a first presentation of a baby to the public world.

People celebrate or acknowledge this in all sorts of ways around the world, usually on the Sunday just before the official holiday, usually with stories about the Star leading the magi to Bethlehem. Last Sunday in worship (3 Jan) we talked about the Spirit bringing a gift to us for the year. (You can take part in our Star Gifts activity right here.) Today, on the very day of Epiphany, what can you bring to God?

 

And what happened after Epiphany?

This has to be one of the most disturbing stories in the Bible…

Churches so often jump from Christmas to the Star, then to either that cute story of 12-year old Jesus in the Temple or right to his adult baptism. (We’re absolutely guilty of that, I’m afraid.) But go look at Matthew 2. After the wise men met with the King in the Capitol, and went to bring their gifts to Jesus, they snuck back to their own country. Then, Herod killed all of the Hebrew boys under two years old… Read that again… A leader so hell-bent on maintaining power, that he would stoop to any low – and his cronies followed him right there, because they would follow him anywhere, because they had lost the ability to see the world with any moral clarity.

This echoes the story of Moses, although in Exodus, several clever women worked to save whoever they could, and of course Moses grew up to resist his evil government. And Jesus, trained on his Rebel mother’s knee, certainly grew up to resist his evil government – these being only two of the several stories in the Bible about resisting an evil government, as though that is a recurrent theme about which God cares to remind us recurrently.

But in baby Jesus’ case, what if the magi, instead of going home another way, what if they stood up to Herod? Or what if they had rescued the holy family? Or at least told someone about the King’s unhinged anger? Are they complicit in the deaths of those many children? What is complicity, and what does it call us to? We are all certainly complicit in many of the human rights abuses around the world – forgive us, Lord, for our iPhones and sweatshop sweatshirts. And many of us are complicit with the abuses that have been happening in our Capitol this very Epiphany. So, moving forward, how can you be more like Jesus, Moses, Shiphrah & Puah, and less like Balthasar, Melchior, & Gaspar?

How can we, from a place of faith, demand, in a place of public leadership, good news for the poor, an overhaul of the in-justice system, access to healthcare, liberation for the oppressed, and a reformation of our entire economic system? (That full story is here, but make sure to read to the end, to see what Jesus’ own childhood church did, when they heard him say this.) How can we, from a place of Biblical tradition, refuse the behavior we’ve seen today, and the systems that prop it up? How can we take those steps of healing, from our heart to the world – not too fast to glide over the real problems at hand, and not too slow to leave real people in the path of destruction?

These are questions for your spirit and mine. These are questions for your action and mine.

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