Time for an Epiphany
Today is a major Christian holiday that most of us know nothing about. It’s called the Feast of the Epiphany.…
Today is a major Christian holiday that most of us know nothing about.
It’s called the Feast of the Epiphany. You maybe recognize that word epiphany. Think of an “aha” moment, an experience of discovery.
The word epiphany literally means “manifestation.” It’s an awakening when something hidden comes into view. It’s made manifest – you can finally see it, you understand something mysterious.
For Christians, we remember the Magi (The Wisemen – Matthew 2:1-12) who visited the young Jesus and his family in Bethlehem. We’re so used to standing three kingly figures in our Nativity sets that it hardly shocks us anymore. But it’s remarkable: pagan astrologers packed up and went on a journey following a star, only to find themselves staring down at a baby and worshiping.
Christ was manifested to the Gentiles. Outsiders. Wow! Those we would last suspect God might love. Surprise! They strike out on a journey to find Truth and are welcomed by the baby. Epiphany.
I read today that since the newly elected President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte took office a few months ago, more than 6,000 people have been killed in his campaign to purge the Philippines of drugs. A photographer captured chilling photos of bodies in the street, in homes, in cars. Police and other hitmen are hired by the government to shoot and kill drug users. The pictures show children crying by their father’s caskets. One man was shot through the window of his home while eating dinner with his family, leaving six children. It is sending a strong signal. If you use drugs, you are not welcome here and we want to kill you.
Then I think of my friend Sara. A sweet girl in our student ministries a few years ago, she got in with the wrong crowd and made choices you hope no young person will make. Those decisions led her on a downward spiral through addiction, pain, loss, and a tremendous struggle for her life.
Sara was the kind of person President Duterte would like to kill.
While she was a homeless, addicted prostitute in Baltimore City Sara became pregnant. Through God’s mercy, her baby became her salvation. The baby kept her from being imprisoned. The baby gave her hope and strength to rely on God and reach for his help.
God’s people from Mountain did not take the same approach as the President of the Philippines. Rather, in the spirit of Jesus, we loved on Sara, waited with Sara, worked with Sara as she struggled through false starts toward recovery. Sara says, “When they could have turned their backs, the people from Mountain helped me in big ways. They didn’t need me to attend a service or donate money or even change much as proof. I asked for help, and I slowly recover as I am loved through this crazy journey by God and his people.”
Now, for the first time in over 4 years Sara is free of heroin and cocaine.
Her life and her baby’s life are a series of miracles. It’s an epiphany where God showed up and manifested himself.
Friends advised Sara to abort her baby. Odds said the baby would be affected by the drugs. The baby dodged foster care. When I look at Sara and her baby I see two epiphanies where God has manifested himself: Sara today holds a beautiful, whole, baby safely in her arms. And Sara is whole and beautiful as well, safe again in her Father’s arms.
The magi were pagans, engaged in activities the scriptures condemn. Astrologers who worshiped the wrong things.
But they went on a journey following the star. They were like Sara. Outsiders. The kind some people don’t have time for.
Also like Sara, a baby led to their salvation.
In both their cases – and in your case and mine – it begins with a willingness to go on a journey. To leave where you are in search of God’s new life.
The magi followed a star, trusting its light, and found themselves worshiping at the feet of Christ. Sara’s epiphany was pretty much the same. In the midst of her darkness she risked leaving a life she knew and ventured bravely forward toward the Lord and his healing light again.
As this new year begins, beyond all the banalities of resolutions and the hype of fresh goals (as important as they are – and I do think they are important) we would be wise men and women to realize it is time for us to go on a journey toward Christ.
Wherever you are, it’s time to leave familiar territory and go on a deliberate journey in search of deeper connection with Christ. This year, leave where you are. Go someplace new. Toward God.
It was scary for Sara, and the magi only had a star to show the way. You will be scared, too.
The amazing aha experience awaiting us is that by God’s grace, we will find him. He welcomes us. We are all like those pagan astrologers, we are all like Sara – outsiders, lost, prone to run from God. But like the magi and Sara we also can find our way to a new place of connection with Christ.
I should mention that on Christmas Eve at Mountain, I held Sara’s baby in my arms as part of our candle lighting service. People looked at a baby and saw a reminder of God’s gift of grace to us – how he came among us as a child. They didn’t really know the full story. That’s what epiphany is all about.
What journey will you go on this year, so you will have a story to tell? What will it take for you to fall at the feet of Christ to worship with a powerful new sense of discovery?
3 thoughts on “Time for an Epiphany”
The Philippine government didn’t hire hitmen to kill drug users/pushers. The government is trying to purge the country of drugs. Those who died chose to fight it off with the authorities when raids were done. There were a lot of pushers who are alive because they surrendered rather than fight. The president has named government officials, police generals and private personalities that are involved in drugs. A lot of the dead are killed by hitmen hired by those involved in drugs before they can name the big ones. You failed to mention that there were hundreds of thousands of drug pushers/users that voluntarily surrendered and the government built a huge facility north of the Philippines just to rehabilitate these men and women. The previous president failed to address the drug problem which has gotten out of control. Only in the Philippines can you find, during the previous administration, a maximum security prison that is run by a drug lord with meth lab inside. Such drug lord is supposed to be a prisoner but can roam freely inside with airconditioned room, jacuzzi,, run a tv network from inside, etc. and high profile government officials are in his payroll.
Looks like you read one of those news items that are out to discredit and destroy the president. Before he became president he was a mayor of Davao City (Tim Trbow was born there and just opened his hospital recently). Davao is one of the more developed city in that region mostly because of the trust by it’s people and foreign and local investors for Duterte.
Nothing short of genocide. If you can honestly look at this as a humane and good way of solving a drug problem…..you are horribly wrong. Fear or death has never stopped anyone from using or selling drugs. Esspecially when you are doing so to feed your habit or your family.
That rehabilitation center means nothing and is for show. If rehabilitation centers were all a country needed to solve a problem than america would have a negative amount of drug users and dealers. This problem is bigger than a black and white solution. This problem is bigger than us. But obviously…it is not too big for our God.
You can’t get rid of drugs. You can kill every single user and dealer. You can’t solve the problem.
One way of ridding the country of drugs is burning it to the ground. That’s sounds like a great idea. And then we will build a rehabilitation center for those injured in the fires and those sick without drugs and for the orphans and the widows. Great idea. I mean….no drugs right???
This logic baffles me.
You’re talking about “humane”. What about the lives of those victims by the drug crazed people. Their family said they’re “usually good people until they use drugs”. A 2 year old raped and killed and thrown to the ditch, a 16 year old walking back home and stabbed for nothing, a cardiologist butchered like a pig while video recording the crime and posting it online and the long list continues all perpetrated by drug crazed people.
What he said was, they”re dead because they chose to fight it out with the authorities when the raids were done. So what’s new with that. There are numbers of police in the US in the news for shooting a suspect whose hands are raised.