It’s hard to sustain constant merriment, isn’t it? It’s delightful for a time, and we give it our all, but eventually, even chocolate loses its appeal when enjoyed on a constant basis. So it’s with some relief that with the Feast of the Epiphany this week, we bid farewell to Christmas and return to regular routines. We have feasted well, and having given it all we’ve got, are now ready to resume ordinary life.
While ordinary life – for most of us – really is ordinary, full of the mundane such as jobs, bills, and housework, the supernatural reality is that life isn’t ordinary at all, but rather is full of extraordinary moments. The Feast of the Epiphany reminds us of that.
|Three Kings ~ Olga Everaert|
The Epiphany is a wonderful event in our Christian story. Epiphany means ‘manifestation’ or ‘striking appearance’, as in the manifestation of the divinity of Christ. In modern language, epiphany is defined as ‘a sudden or profound realization’, an aha! moment. Both meanings are present when the Magi, the three foreign kings, followed the star to Bethlehem and beheld the Christ Child. His divine nature was made manifest to them, and they had the profound realization of who the Infant really is. How humbled they must have been, those great kings! I imagine they were transformed by that moment, and went on to share their wonder at their discovery with others for the rest of their lives. Imagine then those people, who heard of what those three men experienced, later on hearing stories of a man who preached a gospel of love, spoke of the Kingdom of God; a man who was crucified, and rose from death as He promised He would. Do you suppose those people connected the stories as being about the same person?
Though the actual Epiphany happened in one moment in time, in a nondescript stable in a far away country, we can have moments of epiphany – recognizing the Presence of Christ - in our very ordinary lives. The three wise men show us how this is possible:
1. Use the wisdom God gave you. This is not to say that your own intelligence is all that is needed, but it is a key ingredient. God gave you some smarts, and they are a good place to start.
2. Watch for the signs. It will hardly ever be a star; it probably won’t be actual writing on the wall, but if you are attentive, you will see them. How does God speak to you? Have you heard His voice while reading scripture? During a conversation with a friend? In the quiet of your own heart?
3. Follow. That means move. Act. Be obedient to the prompting that steps one and two encourage you to take.
4. Recognize Christ when He is revealed to you. You and I aren’t trekking the desert, and we aren’t kneeling at that crib, but we do encounter Christ in our daily life. It happens in the obvious ways: an older sibling helping a younger brother; a stranger giving money to someone in need; a tired dad playing a game of pickup with his son. But if our eyes are open we will see that Christ is present where we might least expect to see Him. I can’t tell you where that is, but encourage you to be on the watch for Him.
So that is our Epiphany – discovering Christ in our daily life. Those encounters are efficacious to our spiritual growth, but how about we use them to in turn encourage others in their daily walk? What if we, like I imagine the Magi did, share our stories of how we came to know Jesus?
Don’t get nervous – not all of us are called to preach. Most of us will probably do that sharing through how we live our lives and by being witnesses of how Christ changes hearts. Best of all, we can share the love we’ve been given with everyone we encounter in our very ordinary lives. (I’ll try to remember that the next time I’m faced with a cranky library patron!)
This is mostly heart-stuff, something that women are more naturally inclined toward. We, each of us women, has the capacity and the opportunity to touch many lives for the good just by being aware of how Christ is present to us, and how very much He loves us.
And there is nothing ordinary in that.