faith in action

There are mysteries to behold.

The season of Epiphany celebrates God’s cosmic revelation of hope and life in the world through the birth of Christ.

The season of Epiphany celebrates God’s cosmic revelation of hope and life in the world through the birth of Christ.

Epiphanies come in all forms, and they show up in the most unexpected situations. Epiphanies come in times of deep consequence and the thinnest of places. Epiphanies appear in the midst of muddles and messes, at the rising crescendo of a grand symphony, or in the reading of child’s bedtime story.

Christmas came too quickly for me.

The days of Advent — while marked with a simple wreath and lit candles each week — were full of degrees of chaos rather than quiet, disruption rather than centering, secular preoccupations rather than the peeling away of distractions.

The world seemed particularly unsettled. Children were crying and sick at borders and in refugee camps. Two children from Guatemala died. The U.S. government was partially shut down three days before Christmas. There was a very contentious election in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Tensions grew between Ukraine and Russia. A tsunami in Indonesia killed over 400 people. The broken-heartedness and systemic woundedness of the world kept coming.

Advent was far from quiet and centering. There was no time for thoughtful Christmas shopping, decorating a tree, playing Advent music for four weeks, or a day of baking.

But then Christmas Day came, and there were many joys. Joys like spending time with family and friends, writing special notes, making photo albums, giving gifts, eating a simple Christmas breakfast of homemade dinosaur cupcakes and fruit, playing touch football (I made 2 touchdowns!) and practicing archery in the Georgia mud.

Yes, Christmas Day came, and revelations of Christ were revealed in the most poignant ways. They were hard to see while in the moment, but a breath later, a step back, an insight revealed, a random thought, a long-ago smell offered again in the present brought evidence — no, not evidence, but the actual manifestation of the love of Christ into this wounded, crushed and broken world.

When we stop to notice, such revelatory love is so bright that we cannot miss it.

Our beloved colleague, the Rev. Cynthia Abrams, passed from this world into the next on the fifth day of Epiphany. The quickness of her passing is hard to absorb. It is too much, at this moment, for those who love her to take in fully.

But there are mysteries to behold.

She left at sunrise. Sunrise — when the sun burst forth on a new day, the fifth in Epiphany, a day that has never before been. She journeyed to the next world into the arms of God and the ancestors. On a day when creation has never been exactly like this one, this journey began. This world is both diminished and fulfilled. It is a mystery.

The revelation of Christ is like this. It is both as tangible as bread and wine and as mysterious as death. Life on earth will never be quite the same because of the coming of Christ. The most wounded and broken world, the most unprepared Christmas, and the most seemingly unfinished life are turned into the brilliant revelation of love and light.