Even More Epiphany – Rev’d Mary-Anne Rulfs
A season of revelation and realisation …
I found Stewart’s framing of Epiphany in last week’s blog really helpful.
Especially at a time when we are searching for ways to live as healthily and meaningfully as we can.
Revelation – recognising the reality of what’s around us – comes in many ways, especially through our senses when we pay attention to what we are seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and feeling. Revelation comes through being actively engaged in wondering, thinking and imagining.
Think of the wise men, and the various means of revelation that led them to jumping on their camels and heading west to Palestine. And then heading home again without paying a return visit to Herod!
In challenging times, like we’re experiencing now, it can be easy to shut down some of the capacities that bring us fresh revelation and realisation about ourselves, others, God and the world around us, especially when we are unwell, tired, despondent or fearful.
A word of encouragement. We worship, live for and serve a loving God who is 100% present in good times and bad, and wants to be revealed in every moment of every day, should we have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts and minds and strength to respond.
How is God revealed? That’s a big question and there are libraries full of answers!
We are also surrounded by the revelation of God in the rhythm of our lives each day.
Think of the beauty and awesomeness of the created world around us.
Think of the kindness of random people you encounter.
Think of the love of those you are closest to.
Think of the joy we experience in creativity and meaningful work.
Think of the way we value a sense of belonging to community
All these are expressions of God’s presence in our lives and of God’s character in action.
For Christians, there are 4 key elements essential to Christian life that characterise our life in community. They are particular means by which God is revealed in Christ:
I naturally prefer reading books to listening to audiobooks or podcasts, although I do both. Stewart is wired differently and tells me he much prefers listening. Either way, reading or listening to the Bible has always been an essential part of living as a Christian. However, for the huge majority of Christians throughout the centuries and even today, the Bible is heard more than it is read by someone alone with their individual copy of the scriptures.
And here is my epiphany.
Hearing the Bible read is an essential part of the Christian life because our Christian life is a listening life!
Reading the Bible in worship is like proclaiming God’s story to a diverse gathering of people who can ask of themselves and one another:
Where is God in this?
How do we find ourselves in this?
How are we going to be renewed together through this reading?
Christians expect to hear from God.
We listen first, so that we know how to speak in life-giving ways.
We listen first so that we know what to say. What will bring hope and peace and light to others?
We listen first so that we know when to speak, and when to remain silent.
In baptism we hear words of promise and blessing that equip us for being immersed in service in the very world Jesus loves and came to serve.
In the Eucharist, we hear words of thanksgiving for all that Christ has done for us, for all that Christ continues to be for us, and of invitation to be united with Christ as the body of Christ.
And in prayer, we converse with God. Sometimes speaking, and importantly, also listening.
As we continue through this season after Epiphany as an ongoing season of revelation and realisation, I leave you with a song Stewart wrote in 2019. As you pray the words of the song and listen for God’s response to your heart, my prayer is that God’s love and provision will be revealed to you in fresh ways for these times.
You lift me up,
You hold me close
Surround me with your love
When I am weak, I know I’m strong
Your grace is all I need
In giftedness and brokenness
You’ve chosen me to serve
In the storm and in the fire
I am not alone
You’re the one from whom all blessings flow
Our hope, our strength, our God.
In heav’n, on earth, in hearts and hands
Father, Spirit, Son.
More than I could hope for
More thanks I deserve
Our God is even more
More than I imagine
More than I can dream
Our God is even more