Speak for yourselfPublished 8:54am Wednesday, January 8, 2014
By Rev. Jonathan Yarboro
Greetings from the corner of Bridge and Bridge! Happy New Year to all. May God’s blessings be made real in and through you this year.
Last week, my colleague Bob Henderson offered some thoughts regarding Epiphany. I have always loved Epiphany and consider it one of the most significant celebrations on the Christian calendar. The fact that Jan. 6 is also my birthday does not hurt, but I digress!
Epiphany means appearance or manifestation. The Christian calendar begins with Advent; the season for preparing for the coming light of Messiah. On Christmas day, we celebrate the word of God becoming flesh and dwelling among us. Reread the opening of the Gospel of John is you would like a much more eloquent description.
Christmastide follows. The word of God describes how the earthly kingdom began to learn of Messiah’s birth. People of God saw a great light and followed it to a lowly manger where God in the flesh was encountered. Lives were changed and news spread quickly.
While there is great power in the Advent and Christmas story, and certainly a great deal of tradition and celebration, what follows Christmastide is often a small blip on life’s radar, but it shouldn’t be. Epiphany follows Christmastide and I believe it is significant.
It can be argued that God appeared in the flesh at the moment the Christ child was born. This argument is valid, but sometimes facts are not enough to move humans to action. Children of God throughout the history of the earthly kingdom are motivated by appearance and manifestation; the time when things become real.
This is true because reality defies falsehood. Simply put, none of us can truly deny what is staring us in the face. We can pretend, and most of us have developed extensive mechanisms for avoiding reality, but we cannot truly deny what clearly stands before us.
Human creation has an amazing capacity for trying to satisfy human need with the wrong things. Human creation also has a long tradition of refusing to trust in God’s ability to provide for human need. What can I say? Sometimes the truth hurts.
Embracing this reality does not have to turn us to darkness. It actually has the potential for putting guilt and anxiety in their proper place. The children of God in every time and place are encouraged to acknowledge our humanity, but we are also called to move beyond it.
Jesus was not simplifying the life of faith when he issued the great commandment. Jesus was establishing a litmus test for every aspect of human living. The commandment to love others as we are loved by God is actually a good measure for every child of God. Everything we say and to is to be grounded in the love God has for the whole of creation.
How different would our current reality be if each of us took Jesus’ teachings to heart and truly strived to live them out every day? What would the earthly kingdom look like if its inhabitants stopped worrying so much about what other people say and do and focused first on witnessing to God’s amazing grace by living it from the inside out?
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know I am willing to find out. Think about it.
The Rev. Jonathan Yarboro is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Wetumpka.