Today, January 6, was the last of the 12 days of Christmas – the end of the season of Christmastide. This is the day we remember the visit of the Wise Men from the East, and in a broader sense, the revealing of Jesus to the non-Jewish community and the reminder that the Kingdom of God is open to all, no matter their tongue, tribe, or nation. Brian Zahnd mentions that after the Magi encountered Jesus, they went home another way… And therefore Epiphany is the day that we celebrate the truth that an encounter with Jesus will always lead us to take another way – a NEW way.
At Epiphany, we celebrate once more the birth of Jesus – the gift of newness, the unexpected “thrill of hope” that shoots through us when new possibilities are revealed, new opportunities are before us, and new life springs up where before there was only death. Because of this, we have hope – and we are reminded once more that “He is making all things new…”
Walter Brueggemann reminds us of what it means to celebrate this epiphany:
There is a time to be born, and it is now There is a time to be born and a time to die. And this is a time to be born. So we turn to you, God of our life, God of our years God of our beginning. Our times are in your hand. Hear us as we pray: For those of us too much into obedience, birth us to the freedom of the gospel. For those of us too much into self-indulgence, birth us to discipleship in your ministry. For those too much into cynicism, birth us to the innocence of the Christ child. For those of us too much into cowardice, birth us to the courage to stand before principalities and powers. For those of us too much into guilt, birth us into forgiveness worked in your generosity. For those of us too much into despair, birth us into the promises you make to your people. For those of us too much into control, birth us into the vulnerability of the cross. For those of us too much into victimization, birth us into the power of Easter. For those of us too much into fatigue, birth us into the energy of Pentecost. We dare pray that you will do for us and among us and through us what is needful for newness. Give us the power to be receptive, to take the newness you give, to move from womb warmth to real life. We make this prayer not only for ourselves, but for our school at the brink of birth, for the church at the edge of life, for our city waiting for newness, for your whole creation, with which we yearn in eager longing. There is a time to be born, and it is now. We sense the pangs and groans of your newness. Come here now in the name of Jesus. Amen. From Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth Prayers of Walter Brueggemann
For birth is not easy. It is painful. Frightening. Unsettling. But it is worth it.
May we have the eyes to see that which longs to be birthed in our hearts and in our lives in this coming year, the courage to welcome it, and the grace to persevere…