On Epiphany day,
we are still the people walking.
We are still people in the dark,
and the darkness looms large around us,
beset as we are by fear,
a dozen alienations that we cannot manage.
We are — we could be — people of your light.
So we pray for the light of your glorious presence
as we wait for your appearing;
we pray for the light of your wondrous grace
as we exhaust our coping capacity;
we pray for your gift of newness that
will override our weariness;
we pray that we may see and know and hear and trust
in your good rule.
That we may have energy, courage, and freedom to enact
your rule through the demands of this day.
We submit our day to you and to your rule, with deep joy and high hope.
~Walter Brueggemann from Prayers for a Privileged People
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
~T.S. Eliot from “Journey of the Magi”
…the scent of frankincense
arrives on the wind,
and I long
to breathe deeply,
to divine its trail.
But I know their uses
and cannot bring myself
to breathe deeply enough
whether what comes
is the fragrant welcoming
or simply covers the stench of death.
coming toward me,
is it swaddling they carry
~Jan Richardson from Night Visions –searching the shadows of Advent and
The Christmas season is a wrap, put away for another year.
However, our hearts are not so easily boxed up and stored as the decorations and ornaments of the season.
Our troubles and concerns go on; our frailty and failures a daily reality.
We can be distracted with holidays for a few weeks, but our time here slips away ever more quickly.
The Christmas story is not just about light and birth and joy to the world.
It is about how swaddling clothes became a shroud that wrapped Him tight,
yet He broke free to liberate us.
There is no swaddling without the shroud.
God came to be with us;
Delivered so He could deliver.
Planted on and in the earth.
Born so He could die in our place
To leave the linen strips behind, neatly folded.
Christmas: the swaddled unwrapped, freeing us forever from the shroud.
Epiphany: His Light illuminates the Seed taking root in our hearts.
The Light is turned on, as if a switch has been flipped.
Light, warm and heavy as pure gold and angels sing softly to the new-born babe.
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