Oakland church

Archive for Epiphany

Sanctuary, Solidarity, and Epiphany

It’s the season of Epiphany! I’m searching for the light of that star, especially this year, how about you?

What is epiphany? An “epiphany” is a moment of understanding, a moment of consciousness. In last Sunday’s gospel, Matthew tells us the Magi (who were gentiles [that is, non-Jews]) know something is up. They’ve been watching the night skies and a star suggests to them that something is happening in Judea, something to do with royalty. So they travel Judea and check in with King Herod. They get sent off to Bethlehem to find the child and when they find him, they have an epiphany. They realize that this non-royal, peasant child carries God’s love in a special, perhaps even unique way. Thus, Epiphany (the holiday) celebrates the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles.

But that one paragraph summary fails to capture the drama of the story. During their visit to King Herod, the Magi were ordered to report back to the king the location of the child. “And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road,” Matthew tells us.

Theology professor Dr. Serene Jones tweeted, Civil disobedience lies at the heart of the Epiphany story: The magi receive an unjust order from a vindictive tyrant. Instead, they defy him. May we do likewise.”

Our sacred stories remind us that Jesus came to stand up to the principalities and powers that abuse and neglect. Time and again, Jesus calls us to participate in this holy work. Regardless of the outcome of the elections in Georgia, regardless of the outcome of Wednesday’s certification of the Electoral College vote, that holy work will not end. The principalities and powers – in the halls of government and the halls of corporations – that abuse and neglect will continue their ugly work. And so, our Christ-like work of pursuing justice, compassion, and love will continue.

Join us this Sunday, as we continue in this season of Epiphany, with Jesus’s baptism. We are invited to remember that each one of us is God’s beloved child, and that together, as Skyline community church, we are a beloved family, building the beloved community. As part of this service, we will remember our calling as a sanctuary congregation – a renewing of our sanctuary vows, and the power of solidarity in this season of Epiphany.

We are also pleased to have with us this Sunday, my/our friend and colleague, Rev Deborah Lee, https://www.im4humanintegrity.org/our-staff/, Executive Director of the Interfaith Center For Human Integrity. https://www.im4humanintegrity.org/who-we-are/. We will learn more, during and after the service about their work and how we can be of support.

Please be sure to bring with you, a bowl of water for the renewal of our baptismal vows.

Blessings, Pastor Laurie

A Light so Bright….

It seems fitting to end epiphany, the season of light, with a light so bright that no one on earth can produce it, a flash of brilliant, blinding revelation that illuminates not only who Jesus is, but also his mysterious words about his coming suffering, death, and rising again. May it also illuminate who we are on the journey. 
 
I share with you, for further reflection, two beautiful quotes: 

Marilynne Robinson, Gilead, 21st century
“It has seemed to me sometimes as though the Lord breathes on this poor gray ember of Creation and it turns to radiance–for a moment or a year or the span of a life. And then it sinks back into itself again, and to look at it no one would know it had anything to do with fire, or light….Wherever you turn your eyes the world can shine like transfiguration. You don’t have to bring a thing to it except a little willingness to see. Only, who could have the courage to see it?”

John O’Donohue, 21st century
“Much of the stress and emptiness that haunt us can be traced back to our lack of attention to beauty. Internally, the mind becomes coarse and dull if it remains unvisited by images and thoughts that hold the radiance of beauty.”

Blessings upon your week! Laurie