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- Voice of God – The baptism of Jesus is the Scripture text many churches are looking at this Sunday on Epiphany 1. Luke 3:15-22 is what I’ll be preaching on. At the end of the passage we see the Voice of God descending upon Jesus and speaking “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” Epiphany will continue for a few more weeks after the baptism of Jesus and finish on Transfiguration Sunday when we see Jesus, Peter, and James on the mountain. The Voice of God will descend upon Jesus again and we’ll hear God say “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” Epiphany begins and ends with the Voice of God speaking to us. As our United Church of Christ friends say, God is still speaking. I wonder what the Voice of God is saying to us today?
- Interfaith – Many of us read about the visit of The Magi in our churches this past Sunday. The Magi are an unlikely group of folks who catch a glimpse that God was speaking to them. They were most likely not schooled in the ways of Judaism or at least did not practice Judaism. Tradition has glorified these three guys into kings but that is probably not the case. These guys were diviners, perhaps Zoroastrians, or perhaps astrologers. The visit of The Magi is the first interfaith experience we have in the Gospel. God speaks outside our comfortable religious boundaries.
- Incarnation – We often speak of the resurrection as the climax of our Christian story. I get that. But for me it’s the incarnation. God became flesh. That would be enough for me right there. God affirms the dignity and goodness of human flesh in the incarnation.
- Jump in the Water! – In Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey and a few other countries our Orthodox siblings of the faith will jump in the freezing water to retrieve a wooden crucifix that was thrown in their by the priests. It is said that the dive is to bring good fortune on the diver and their family.
- Epiphany in Culture – Epiphany comes from the Greek Ἐπιφάνεια (Epiphaneia) which can be translated as “Manifestation” or “striking appearance”. From our Scripture it is probably more accurate that we use the word theophany Θεοφάνεια (theophaneia) meaning “Vision of God.” Epiphany is the time when we see new visions of God. When the manifestation of Christ becomes real, really real, in our lives. I believe our country witnessed a vision of God yesterday when our President spoke and began to take Executive action on sensible gun reforms. We have a gun problem in this country. Yesterday I saw our President speak to the Vision of God that I see in Isaiah 2:4 “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” May this Epiphany season lead us in the path of love and justice as the Spirit shows us glimpses of God’s vision for us. May this season of Epiphany lead us to put down our weapons so no more people are killed by atrocious gun violence.