Friday, January 13, 2012

Epiphany - Let There Be Light

I was a young teen when I had my epiphany about Epiphany, the Christian holy day that celebrates God’s revelation through the humanity of Jesus Christ.

In my enlightened state (for the season of Epiphany celebrates light entering a darkened world) the term stopped being a word that I glossed over some Sunday morning shortly after Christmas and became one edge of the prism I use to view what happens in the world.

Epiphany – a term that can cause confusion, wonder, amusement and more – is the destination of Advent and the whole point of Christmas. Yet few know what it is, and many who do, don’t know what to do with it - or about it.

Neither do I, really. But I like the way it shapes my prism. So I leave it at that.

God personified in the person of Jesus – God with human skin.

This witness of walking divinity transformed how I see those formed in the image of their Creator. And then, as I shared in Involuntary Joy, becoming Stross’ mom sharpened that focus. In fact, his life became another edge of my prism. Stross has forever shaped how I see the divine at work in human life.

Yet it’s my developing understanding of Epiphany – for it continues to develop day by day – that serves as an illuminating laser point of divine light.

Holiness in a dark world.

Hope in the midst of helplessness.

Joy after sorrow.

Promise of purpose amid messy days.

It’s how I hold onto childlike faith. The faith I was born into and continue to hold as holy.

My parents chose this faith for me in the beginning. And for my first Christmas, they gave me – their four-month-old firstborn – a tangible expression of faith. Poor enough to be practical, my 20-year-old mother and my 21-year-old dad gave me the first four figurines of a nativity: Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus and an angel we named Gloria. My father then fashioned a home for them by taking apart the boards of a wooden peach crate and reassembling them in the shape of an A-frame manger.

That was my first Christmas present; and each year after that until well into my teens, my parents added another piece to this holy family scene. A donkey, a cow, shepherds, three magi, camels and sheep. When the crèche became too crowded for comfort, they stopped. But each year, they set out all 20-some pieces on an end table in my childhood home until several years ago, when they gifted the entire set to me once again. This time for my safekeeping.

Where the crèche is concerned, I don’t keep Epiphany in the strict sense. I don’t hold back the magi and camels until January 6, the 12th day of Christmas. But I leave the entire scene on display until that day at least. This year it was out four days more just because I like seeing it there.

It reminds me I was born from love to young parents who had little to share but love. It also reminds me whose I am and that I – like the one who came as light – is called to be light in a dark world.

Luminous, reflective, refractive ... light!

Aha and amen. May that indeed be so.


Jean said...

As someone who did not grow up in churches who observed Epiphany, I really appreciate your personal explanation.

And what a neat gift for child to grow up with..


Joy said...

Thank you for your kind comments. And, yes, I am thankful every year when my children and I set out the pieces together.