Before I get to some reflections, a bit of news…the winner of the “Jefferson Award” from WXOW for January…our own Dean Olson. And Dean won the award for this work…at Our Savior’s! You can watch an interview with Dean on the WXOW web site. Go to: https://www.wxow.com/community/jefferson-awards/.
Wow, that’s big…and really, it has something to do with my reflections. So, take a look at the interview. And I’ll come back to it in a few moments.
But first, it’s early February…winter is wearing on…tomorrow will be almost summer-like – temps in the mid 40’s. OK, not quite summer, but quite a change from significantly sub-zero temps a few weeks ago. A reminder, however, that warmer weather…and summer…will return.
So, let’s see…six months from now – August 7 – and we will be in the midst of the “dog days of summer.” Pretty appropriate since today we are also in the midst of the “dog days.” The “dog days of Epiphany.”
In case you missed it, we’ve been in Epiphany for one month and one day already…with another four weeks and two days yet to go. Right in the middle. Half way through. But, so what? Has it made a difference in your life? Yet?
Epiphany is something of a bridge. It follows Christmas, and is followed by Lent. A journey on one end, and another journey on the other. With Epiphany linking the two.
Back in December we journeyed to the manger, and there, we came face to face with a child, a special child, a child, in whom we were told, God is not only active, God is present! Awed by such a moment, we hung around for a while. For the twelve days of Christmas, we basked in what John, the gospel writer called, “the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14b).
Pretty heady stuff.
But remember, another journey lies ahead. This one takes us to another spot where we will not only see God at work, we will see God. This time though, we will not gather in a quiet, romantic (albeit a bit dirty and smelly) barn, but instead on a small hill, at the foot of a cross. There too we will bask, but this time as we hear the words “It is finished” (John 19:30), we will witness the completion of God’s mission to restore and renew life. We witness that in Jesus, in the midst of a broken and hurting world, God has changed everything.
And that’s pretty heady stuff too!
But what about the bridge?
Epiphany is about God revealing his glory in the person of Jesus. Throughout the season we hear again and again of how God is at work in Jesus, how God is present in Jesus, and really, how Jesus is God right here in our midst. And that is critical.
It’s critical because the baby in the manger is cute, but is that child really up to the journey to the cross, where life is renewed and restored, where hope is rekindled, where our future is assured?
That’s why this time is so important. We need this bridge. We need to bridge the space from manger to cross. And we need that bridge to connect the child with the crucified.
Especially these days. In a time of weariness, when we are tired and worn, with maybe a bit of doubt and “sagging” faith, we need this – desperately. And that’s why Epiphany is so important.
Still, we are in the “dog days” of the season. It’s been a while since the manger, and we still have a way to go. God is still revealing the divine presence in Jesus, but sometimes, as the season wears on, it’s hard to see.
Which brings me back to Dean Olson. Dean could be called, “an Epiphany moment.” And not just Dean, but lots of other folk. People who, realizing it or not, are revealing “God at work.” God at work in Jesus through the ministry they carry out.
For Dean it’s guitar classes, tech work, and music. One of our shut-ins tells me that when he watches our YouTube worship, it’s the guy with the guitar that he really enjoys.
For others, it’s the work in the Food Pantry, or Sunday School, or leadership roles.
And for still others it’s the stuff they do every day, in other places – at work, in volunteer efforts in the community, in their interactions as they carry out their daily tasks. Wherever, in their service, in their relationships, in the way they carry themselves, in the hope they restore, they do not reveal themselves. They reveal the glory of God, the God who is present in Jesus, revealed to the world, or at least in their little corner of creation, through them.
And that’s why you need to see Dean’s interview. To celebrate and rejoice that God is revealed in the ministries he carries out. But also to be reminded, especially when we are weary, worn, and tired, that you too reveal God’s presence, that you too are a part of God’s work, that you too are “an Epiphany moment.”
You too bear witness as God works through you and Jesus is revealed in your daily life – the manger really does connect to the cross. The child really does become the crucified. And that makes all the difference in life!