Epiphanies -- They just keep coming and coming and coming..
For some reason, that pink marching, drumming spokesbunny for a battery company comes to mind: you know, the one that "...just keeps going, and going, and going...". Epiphanies are quite the opposite: they don't go, they come.
This particular year we church folk - between January 6 and February 3 - will have commemorated and liturgically celebrated one Epiphany and four other epiphanies with Jesus, John the Baptist, the first four disciples and the voice of God prominently front and center.
The simple way to make a case for the epiphanies of Jesus is simply to recap a month of Sundays: His recognition by the Magi, the cosmic connection Jesus made with his Father in the Jordan river, John's affirmation of Jesus' Messianic nature, the about turn by the first disciples to follow Jesus, the transformed appearance of Jesus with two illustrious prophets and the booming voice of God telling the disciples to listen up. Jesus and all the other people mentioned in the Gospel readings had epiphanies.
Yes, it would be simple to stop there. Yet if we did, it would be an injustice. Epiphanies occur because the hand of God touches each of our lives. I am a Christian and the older I become, the less disposed I am to the idea that coincidences are completely random actions. I hereby make the public statement that the more I pray and the more my faith grows, the more I am convinced that God is behind many of my "AHA!" moments. Let me give you some examples.
Toward the end of her life, I visited my grandmother, Mary, in the care section of the residential facility where she lived. During a conversation she mentioned that her parents had always favored her younger sister, Ann. I recall her saying 'That's not right and I didn't make that mistake'. It wasn't until after she had died around Valentine's day six years ago that I had an epiphany and made a connection. She favored my father (the firstborn), who was dutiful but not nearly as tolerant of her as my Uncle Bob. This despite the fact that Bob made an apartment in his home for her to live when she had to move; Bob was the one who invited her to move to Florida with him and Aunt Ruthie: she stubbornly refused. She favored me over my sister, despite my leaving the Roman Catholic church and not being the marrying kind. She favored my cousin Rob over his sisters and praised his every accomplishment.
Coming from a family with alcoholic roots on both maternal and paternal sides I often prided myself on not having 'given in' to alcohol. It wasn't until I learned that ones drug of choice didn't have to be a beverage or a controlled substance that another epiphany occurred. My world revolved around food. I ate when I was sad, happy, depressed, bored, scared, in love, out of love, angry, anxious. The epiphany was that my obsession and unnatural relationship with food made my life unmanageable. I joined a twelve step program.
I always felt called to serve God - I joined a co-ed experimental religious order in Colorado; that didn't work. I sang in different churches; that didn't work. I joined a 'real' religious order; that didn't work. I stayed as far away from God and prayer as I could; that didn't work. I was accepted into the first class for the diaconate in the diocese of New York; three weeks before the ordination and two after my mother died I got the call that I wouldn't be ordained. It seemed as if THAT hadn't worked either. It wasn't until after a compulsory year of intense therapy, spiritual direction, reflection and prayer that I stopped being angry long enough to have a poignant epiphany. I heard a voice that said, 'I call: the vocation is mine, the response is yours. You were not ready to be vulnerable, to love without counting the cost. Wait for my call again.' That was a real epiphany for me. I wasn't being punished. The committee wasn't being unfair: I wasn't ready yet. The second week in May I got a phone call inviting me to meet with the committee. They subsequently put me forward for ordination by unanimous vote.
Those are a few of my epiphanies and now (or during communion or some time this week) I'd like you to take some time and think about all the epiphanies you have had in your own life. Perhaps they popped up during prayer time, but it is more likely that they appeared unexpectedly in the midst of going somewhere or thinking or grocery shopping or talking on the phone. You just never know when the wind of the Spirit will send a fresh breeze your way inspiring insight or unveiling a previously hidden meaning or causing a spiritual connection.
The God of love and life and creativity will keep sending us epiphanies: new beginnings, opportunities, challenges and moments of exquisite clarity.
By the power of the Holy Spirit you can have faith that they will keep coming and coming and coming. Amen.