Sunday Prayer (Epiphany)

It’s only the second week after Christmas,
only a few days into the new year,
and we are tired already, God.
The arrival of the magi and even
the mystery of the Word Made Flesh
are not quite enough to shake us loose
from daily stresses and the spiritual duldrums
with which we struggle. But we are trying,
honestly we are trying, to savor
the wonder of it all.

While we are trying and wondering, we pray:
for those who are cold today;
for those who are dying;
for those who ache.
We pray for those who need
a glimmer of light and the hope of newness.
We pray for ourselves, and Emmanuel
we pray for one another.
Lead your people
with consolation to that place
of peace, where rivers flow clear
and wise men honor children, where
snow dances in your praise
and grace is lavish.

All of this we lift up to the Light. Amen.

Prayer cross-posted at RevGalBlogPals.

Monday Muse: The Collective Epiphany

Have I mentioned that I’m not a fan of the New Year’s holiday? Really I can take it or leave it. For one thing, it’s a whole lot of hype & fireworks & store sales just to hang up a new calendar. For another, I might be a little resistant to change.

So New Year’s strikes me as a holiday to (1) mourn the past & the unstoppable tide of change, and/or (2) kick & scream in the face of whatever unknown lies ahead.

fireworks_1_bg_070402

It’s better if I just go to sleep and don’t bother seeing in the new year.

Still, New Year’s is one of those holidays to which many churches give a liturgical nod, in part because the themes of New Year’s are well-suited to the celebration of Epiphany: new resolutions and new revelations, contemplating goals and contemplating visions, praying for the unknown that lies ahead and praying to the Unknown that is unfolding.

The good news of Epiphany over New Year’s, however, is its focus on God doing a new thing (whilst anything I do is pretty darn predictable…like finishing the Christmas cookies in one sitting under the guise that I’ll start a new diet tomorrow). Seriously, thank God for doing a new thing, because I’m predictable and I don’t like change so it’s a reasonable guess that “new thing” is not my forte.

But here’s the twist — the surprise, the wonder, the realization: when it comes to Epiphany, the new thing that God is doing just might be us. Take another look at Isaiah 60:1-6:

Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. It’s time, let’s go! And not just you … y’all get up. Second person plural (see the preceding Isaiah 59:21). One & all, here we go! God is your light, God’s glory has crowned your head and ignited the synapses between you. It is your time to shine for God’s sake. Get up!

For darkness shall cover the earth like a fog, and dense clouds will hide all people from one another, but the LORD will arise upon you and God’s glory will be over you. Seriously, it’s time! The grace that you know, the passion for justice that you share, the fellowship that binds you: these are needed to bear witness to the dawn!

Lift up your eyes and look around: nations shall come to your light, people will gather together; your sons shall return from their wars and your daughters shall find healing. Do not be shy or fearful. Look and see the light that you have been given to shine together. Live boldly as the very best community that God has called you to be, and watch how others come to join with you in beaming with God’s Spirit.

Then you shall see and be radiant. Your heart shall thrill and rejoice! You will be surprised by the gifts that are shared — brought by sea and by camel — in joyful praise of the LORD. Let grace beget grace, let joy beget joy, let light beget light, to the glory of God!

You — and me, and us, and all people as far as you can imagine with your arms stretched wide — together we are the new thing that God is doing in this world, for the sake of the world. Beloved Community, there is a Spirit upon your head, a word upon your tongue and a light within your core, and this is the new thing that God has given to you to shape your path … the new thing that God has given to the world to bolster its spirits.

While New Year’s resolutions draw us individually inward for personal reflection & self-development, Epiphany’s revelation draws us outward to community for radiating & gathering & radiating some more. Set your individual goals if you will, but make one of them “Shine with others.” Mourn the past if you need to (I do) and scream at the future if it helps (it does), but participate in the bright new thing that God is doing — which is you, second person plural.

CALL TO WORSHIP
One: We are searching for a light to guide us.
All: Arise, shine for our light has come!
One: We are longing for inspiration to motivate us.
All: The glory of the LORD has risen upon us.
One: We are wishing for the world to change.
All: Look around: people are looking for God’s light in us.
One: We are ready to see what God can do!
All: Our hearts rejoice in God’s glory! We join together to shine!

For The Holidays

Already I’m eager

for turkey and stockings,

for pumpkin pie next to apple pie,

for mulled cider and secretive shopping,

for “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and “Silent Night.”

But first let me remember: no messenger or angel,

no holiday feast or Christmas pageant,

no gift-shopping or gift-wrapping,

no gathering or traveling

can substitute

for the One Holy God

whose life of reckless loving

and whose endless love for reconciling

are above all, through all, and in all

— but most of all greater than —

the festive trappings.

Let me remember now

so that I can repeat it again

amidst the jingly ads and holiday frappes:

God is my hope and my joy, my comfort and my surprise!

This I will seek through the anticipation and the busyness,

among the pageant angels and UPS messengers,

despite holiday blues or family chaos:

God my hope!

God my joy!

God my comfort!

God my surprise!

 

Mary’s Epiphany Prayer

This little Light of mine, cradled in my arms asleep, I’m gonna shine for you! Little Light, for you I will not rest until the world is a little gentler, a little kinder, a little saner, so that it welcomes you as you grow. Sweet Light, the sun is dim for me compared to your smile. You are the twinkle in my eye and the soft spot in my heart; no one else has my love quite like you. Let the storms rain and torment — I promise that I will shine like a rainbow to protect you. Let them try to extinguish me — I will always burn with enough light to nurture your own. You are my revelation and joy, the brightest Star in the night that is this life. Light of my world, here is my light. I’m gonna shine for you!

Psalm of a Wise Traveler

When I find the Source of the Light,
when at last I meet the Reason for the star’s prophecy,
I will proclaim thus:

“You are magnificent and holy!
Never in my life have I beheld
such a powerful marvel!
My God and my Sovereign,
how could I live a lifetime
and not see Thee?

Now, here, as I consider the depth of your bright eyes,
I recall how the full moon at night
would peer into my soul.

And your radiant head (ah, beauty!)
brings to my mind
the brilliance of the sun on the water
sparkling crisply like a jewel,
too brilliant for staring.

I consider your smile — I cannot miss it!
It is every smile that I have ever seen
on every face I have ever met
(and millions more, I know!).
Your smile is your people, all people,
full of the life and breath of God.

Shall I continue?

Your laughter is the joy of every creature:
I have seen it in the leap of the white tailed deer,
heard it in the chirping chorus of spring peepers,
awed at it in the flight of snow geese.

In my mind…
my God, I had no idea!
Every imaginative thought of you fell short
of this! This Wonder!
This — You!
I am overwhelmed
and at peace.”