In this season of Epiphanytide, we rejoice over our Advent hope having been fulfilled, and delight in the revelation that Jesus has been made known to us as the Christ, our long-awaited and much-anticipated Savior and Messiah. Jesus, the Son of God, has been born into our world and now lives among us, participating in everyday life alongside us. Therefore, we are able to experience him in our everyday life–not only in the big, life-changing moments, but also in the small and seemingly mundane. This season Crossings will focus on just that: experiencing Jesus in the day-to-day.
The sun is alight on the horizon this morning after the flooding, leaking rains of last night; bright glimmers of light slipping through the tree limbs and the fences. Glimmers much like echoes of the Christmas message that abound through Epiphanytide: He has come; the Light who brings life has come.
We see this all around us, every day, in life-giving moments: When the house sells, disaster is averted and it is well with our souls. When a good medical report is given, then a better one is delivered with a more hopeful outcome and healing begins. Or when–as happened last week–relieved parents receive news of their daughter’s safety when she’d been missing for three days.
Glimmers of light.
In our individual lives and our shared community life, we are also painfully aware of times when the news is not so welcomed, when it is not what we had hoped. We share disappointments when the sale falls through; we weep together when the medical report is not what we prayed for; we mourn together over an unexpected loss. And when hard decisions need to be made we long to hear our Father’s voice.
Yet we find ourselves in the present moment, somewhere in this earthly ‘in-between’ land, when we live between the reality that, yes, Jesus is already here, but has not yet fully restored and established his kingdom, which he has promised to do.
Ah, imperfect patience.
In the Scriptures, there are countless examples of the challenges of living in-between the already, but not yet. We read the lessons of so many leaders, kings, prophets and people of God who did not wait well. Some, like David, lamented, crying out to God with a comforting and familiar language that matched his grief, regret and longings. We relish the Psalms as we share much of David’s unbridled emotions and perennial questions: How long, O Lord?
Others in the Scriptures were beset with endless days of waiting or wandering in whatever desert, and simply chose to go the way of the golden calf or of murmuring in the miasma of unwanted manna. “REBELLIOUS SPIRITS!” one preacher shouted with surprising gusto in the middle of a decidedly longer sermon on patience.
Times of transition are prime real estate for transformation. But like those who have gone before us, we also suffer from imperfect patience even when surrounded by God’s provision; like Israel, we do not wait well. Life changes and transitions are difficult, and they can quickly become places of temptation, challenge, or even opportunity. In these times, we need to be watchful for glimmers of light.
God made human beings in the beginning and granted us freedom to make our own decisions, although not without consequences. He has set before us water and fire, with the freedom to set our hand to whichever we prefer. The Old and New Testaments have much to say regarding such freedom; they are full of glimmers of hope, as well as dire admonitions.
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice and by holding fast to Him, for this is your life and the end of your days (Deut. 30:15-20).
I’m convinced we cannot make such choices in isolation. As God’s people we are called to live in community, as imperfect as it may be. Epiphany Day, January 6, marks the beginning of a New Year in the Church’s calendar year. This is not so much a time to articulate failing resolutions as it is a time to begin again, choosing life in the midst of and with the blessing of one another.
“In Him was life and the life was the Light of men…”
“In Him was life” – and is life.
“In Him was the Light of men” – and is the Light of men (and women and children).
“…and the darkness did not comprehend it.”
When we miss the glimmers of light, often blinded by our own expectations, it can become easy to drift into the darkness. Decisions become harder, the path forward unclear, the timing obscured, and the cost simply too high. If you are in a difficult or lonely place, be reminded that God calls you Beloved. Perhaps it is time to double back, to remember again who he is and why he came for you. His Spirit enables, but you and I must also do our part, together with and for one another, sacrificing, partnering and caring for each other in community.
It is the way of Jesus and it looks quite different than the way of the world. Because we are image-bearers of the Light that has come, Christ assures us, “I am with you always, even ’til the end of the age…” even here, in this messy and wildly unpredictable time and place.
Watch for the glimmers. Share them with each other as encouragement. Keep looking up.
Father, Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven.
JoAnn is the Lay Minister of Community & Connections, overseeing home groups and women’s ministry, among many, many other things. She has been with CTR since its founding in 2009. JoAnn attends and regularly serves at the 11am, and can almost always be found chatting with newcomers following services.
If you’re interested in learning more about community, home groups, and getting involved at CTR, let her know: firstname.lastname@example.org