Tomorrow is January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, the day we remember the story of the Magi bringing gifts to the baby Jesus. The season of Epiphany, (from January 6 to Ash Wednesday) is often known as the season of light. There is the light of the star that guides the Magi to Bethlehem, stopping over the manger where Jesus is born. And there is the light of Christ coming into the world.
Sadly we now see January 6 as a day of darkness in our country. Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. No matter how many times I have seen the videos of that horrifying day it still gives me chills. And as we now know the events of that day were not a spontaneous riot, but were part of an attempted coup planned at the highest levels of our government. The more the January 6th commission uncovers the worse the story gets.
I’ve been thinking about the irony of these polar opposite events we remember on January 6. And I’ve realized that the events at the Capitol last year were also an epiphany of sorts.
The dictionary definition of epiphany is “a revelation, a revealing moment, or a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way.” The Church season of Epiphany is about the revelation of God in the flesh and blood infant Jesus, and the adult Jesus’ continuing revelation of God through his actions and teachings.
The events of January 6, 2021 were also a revelation. It was a moment of clarity that revealed that the divisions in our country go far deeper than differing opinions on issues. They are a crack in the foundation of our democracy, a revelation of just how fragile our system of government is, and how easily we could descend into a facist authoritarianism.
The events of that day were horrific. But the revelation is hopeful. The whole truth of our situation is necessary if we are to heal and protect our democracy and our country. We need the light to reveal the reality of our situation to do that.
It also helps me to remember that the first Epiphany occurred in a very dark world. Jesus was born into a land occupied by the foreign and often brutal Roman empire. He came in poverty and vulnerability into a world filled with violence and evil.
Tomorrow as we watch and remember the dark events of January 6, 2021, also remember these words from the Gospel of John about the birth of Jesus: “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it.” May that be our prayer for the nation we all love.
Finally, I want to let you know that I will be away for the next two weeks. IF my flight is not canceled tomorrow I will fly to Bozeman, Montana, then travel on to Gardiner to spend the next nine days on a photography trip to Yellowstone, one of my favorite places on Earth. I have never been there in the winter. I know it will be beautiful — and cold. Very cold.
I am sorry that the timing of this comes just as we have moved worship and everything else back to online only. But I’m leaving you in good hands. This Sunday our guest priest will be Claiborne Jones, who was rector of Church of the Epiphany (!) for many years, and then director of Emmaus House. On the 16th, St. Dunstan’s good friends Deborah Silver and Bill Deneke will be back with you. I will be back in the office on January 17, hopefully with many good photos to show.
If you would like to remember the Feast of the Epiphany tomorrow amidst all the other remembering of the events of last year, you can join a livestream of an Epiphany service with our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at noon. Here is the link:
Thursday, Jan. 6, at 12 p.m. Eastern
Join Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Washington Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde, and a diverse community of leaders and artists for a livestreamed Epiphany service from the Church of the Epiphany in Washington, D.C.
|During a bilingual worship service featuring diverse voices from across the church, Bishop Curry will invite Episcopalians to commit afresh to looking, acting, and loving like Jesus—in our communities and in our nation. Later that day, Bishop Curry will also offer a videotaped address to the nation.|