Beloved in Christ,
It’s fascinating to think about how the church’s liturgical year, fashioned as it is around the life of Christ, helps us to better hear and understand the gospel. Take the seasons of Christmas and Epiphany for example.
At Christmas we celebrate the coming of God among us – Immanuel, God with us. But as we know the drawing near of God in Jesus didn’t make any major headlines and wasn’t accompanied with a whole lot of fanfare. Why would it? A poor family giving birth among the livestock isn’t exactly glamorous. As it was, God’s arrival in human flesh was tucked away and hidden from view.
But it couldn’t possibly stay that way. After all, God’s rescue plan is for all people everywhere. It needs to be made known. And that’s precisely what the season of Epiphany, following on from Christmas, is about. Epiphany is about the showing-forth of God in Christ – to the magi from the east, at the baptism of Jesus, and in his first miracle (or sign) at the wedding in Cana where as John tells us Jesus “revealed his glory,” (John 2:11). We’ll hear that passage read on Sunday.
In these ways and more God begins to draw back the veil ever so slightly, revealing the true identity of Jesus of Nazareth. And not just to a chosen few but, eventually, to all. That was the plan all along (Genesis 12:3).
There is more, of course. (There is always more with God.) We might say that God also wants to show himself forth in our life as Christians. “That is to say,” as Father Robert Crouse puts it, “there is to be an epiphany, a showing forth of the divine life in us.”
In the Epistle reading that we hear this week the Apostle Paul reminds us of our gifts. Among those he lists are prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, and compassion. Perhaps there are some of us that aren’t sure we have any gifts, or that if we do they couldn’t possibly amount to much. At the wedding in Cana the mother of Jesus says “they have no wine.” But by the grace of God we do have gifts and by the grace of God water is changed to wine. And the wisdom, power, and love of God is revealed in the gifts that he has given us and in our exercise of them (Crouse). That is the Epiphany of God in us.
Paul encourages us to honestly and modestly recognize our gifts. “Be ardent in spirit,” he says, “serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer, Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers,” (Romans 12:11-13). What Paul speaks of here is a life that has been transformed by the grace of God and opened up to others: water into wine.
What gifts has God, in his manifold wisdom and grace, given to you? How might God want to make his power and love known to others through those gifts? Perhaps something for us to prayerfully contemplate this Epiphany.
God bless you church! See you live on Facebook at 10:30am this Sunday. By the way, you can ‘like’ and ‘follow’ us on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/stjohnscraighurst (St John’s) and here https://www.facebook.com/st.pauls.midhurst (St Paul’s).