Unclench your fists
Hold out your hands.
Let us hold each other.
Thus is his Glory Manifest.
~Madeleine L’Engle “Epiphany”
pitch your tent with mine
so that I may not become deterred
by hardship, strangeness, doubt.
Show me the movement I must make
toward a wealth not dependent on possessions
toward a wisdom not based on books
toward a strength not bolstered by might
toward a God not confined to heaven
but scandalously earthed, poor, unrecognized…
Help me find myself
as I walk in others’ shoes.
~Kate Compston, from A Poem for Epiphany From Bread of Tomorrow: Prayers for the Church Year
Imagine the Lord, for the first time, from darkness, and stranded
Immensely in distance, recognizing Himself in the Son
Of Man: His homelessness plain to him now in a homeless one.
~Joseph Brodsky from “Nativity Poem” (translated by Seamus Heaney)
‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
…And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we lead all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I have seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.
~T.S.Eliot from “Journey of the Magi”
In journeyings often,
in perils of waters,
in perils of robbers,
in perils by mine own countrymen,
in perils by the heathen,
in perils in the city,
in perils in the wilderness,
in perils in the sea,
in perils among false brethren;
In weariness and painfulness,
in watchings often,
in hunger and thirst,
in fastings often,
in cold and nakedness.
2 Corinthians 11:26-27
Oh, when we are journeying through the murky night
and the dark woods of affliction and sorrow,
it is something to find here and there a spray broken,
or a leafy stem bent down with the tread of His foot
and the brush of His hand as He passed;
and to remember that the path He trod He has hallowed,
and thus to find lingering fragrance
and hidden strength in the remembrance of Him
as “in all points tempted like as we are,”
bearing grief for us,
bearing grief with us,
bearing grief like us.
~Alexander MacLaren from Sermons Preached in Manchester: First series
We are called to journey into the unfamiliar;
some go no further than the backyard,
some to the ends of the earth,
some to the moon and back.
The journey is not about the miles covered;
it is an internal trek we all must make
on the crooked road of our hearts,
by relaxing our clenched fists,
taking the offered hand and being led
to that straight path back to God.
Much of the journey is perilous.
We may become both sacrament and sacrifice.
He has been down that road before us,
knowing the temptations, and bearing the grief we face.
There is but one map available and one map maker.
This road leads home and home is where He patiently waits for us.
January 6, the traditional day of celebrating “Epiphany” as the manifestation of God on earth in the form of His incarnate Son, calls us to deeper scrutiny of our earthly journey —
away from our anger, our shame and our resultant homelessness,
to the restoration of our souls, resting in the sacrifice of Christ Himself.
1. On this day earth shall ring
with the song children sing
Praising the young King,
who was born to save us
And the maiden who
brought Him forth to save us.
2. His the doom, ours the mirth,
when he came to earth,
Bethlehem saw his birth,
ox and ass beside him,
He came to vanquish
the Prince of Darkness.
3. God’s bright star o’er his head,
Wise men come seeking Him,
They kneel and lay their gifts
beside Him and adore Him,
They offer gifts of gold,
frankincense, and myrrh
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