The Feast of the Epiphany (and the season that follows) is a festival of light. As with Advent, the season that need not be cast in binary terms of light in opposition to dark. In my preaching (and social media posting), I have observed that the light does not hate the holy luminous darkness that gives it birth (with a nod to Howard Thurman for the expression “luminous darkness”). Both are the abode of God. The light of Epiphany is the light of God’s love shining in and through in the world and the word throughout the scriptures. In this season we will see the light of God shining in and through Christ, God’s love made manifest.
It is a season of revelation. God and God’s love are being continually revealed in the world of the text and in the world that reads it. Sometimes it will be hard to see the light, to keep it kindled and the hope it represents with it. Shadows and sorrows encroach. No matter how bleak the gloom that overshadows, even the deepest dark of night is a resting place for the rising of the dawn.
In the festal readings, the first lesson addresses the people as God’s daughter (made clear by the style of translation in Year W). It is the familiar lesson with camels and gifts of gold and frankincense conjuring the gospel story of the magi and the later Christian tradition of the three kings. As always, it is important to read the text in its own ancient context, a prophecy giving voice to the hope of Zion’s restoration. The psalm makes clear that the light of God’s love is not limited to one people or nation. The epistle is set in a time when social and political realities encroach upon the light of the gospel in Christ Jesus and faith itself is an act of resistance with women’s faith held up at the textual exemplar. This is not the case for the majority of Christians in the world. Western Christians are more likely to endanger others with the political power Christianity has accrued then be endangered. In the epiphany gospel, “sages” without gender or number come seeking the Christ child a year or two or more after his birth. It is among other things a story about interpreting scripture.
Nathan RussellJanuary 3, 2022 9:38 pm
We’re using #YearW for the 2021-2022 Lectionary Year, and we celebrated Epiphany Sunday on January 2. For followers of Year W, what Sundays are you calling Epiphany 1, 2, etc?
In the past, we’ve followed the calendar here: https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu//lections.php?year=C&season=Epiphany
So here’s my current draft schedule with Year W:
01/02/2022: Epiphany Sunday
01/09/2022: Epiphany I (In years past, we celebrated the Baptism of the Lord on the Sunday after Epiphany Sunday).
01/16/2022: Epiphany II – the gospel is Matthew’s version of Jesus’ baptism
01/23/2022: Epiphany III
01/30/2022: Epiphany IV – the gospel is Luke’s version of Jesus’ baptism + genealogy
02/06/2022: Epiphany V
02/13/2022: Epiphany VI
02/20/2022: Epiphany VII
02/27/2022: Epiphany VIII? (In years past, this would be Transfiguration Sunday, but I don’t think Year W has a selection of texts for this feast day, but I could be missing something).
Sejana Yoo (Shines)January 7, 2022 9:51 am
I just wanted to say, what a great point you made about Lois and Eunice in 1 Timothy having their own stories of faith. Obviously, they do as they are credited for passing it on to Timothy. But you went further and pointed out what if they had their own epistle, what might they have said? Excellent question that got my mind wondering…