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Along the Way
Epiphany 2008
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A few months ago the movie Stardust was in the theaters and is now available on DVD. Stardust is an adult fairy tale in which a star falls to Earth in the form of a beautiful young woman. Shortly after crash landing, she encounters the young hero of the story who is on a quest. One of the characteristics of stars in this fairy tale world is that they glow when they are happy; the happier the brighter. The young couple fall in love by the end of the story and no one can miss the brilliance of their love, as it is glowingly obvious for all to see.

            Today is the feast of the Epiphany. Traditionally it is called the feast of the three Kings, since that is the story featured in the gospel reading. The word epiphany means a showing. Yet, this showing is not just giving someone a look at an object. When we use the work epiphany we are talking about seeing something that changes our lives. Archimedes, an ancient Greek philosopher, was sitting in the public baths of Athens one day many years ago watching the water move up and down as people splashed around in the pool and got in and out. He had been in the pool thousands of times before and had seen the water move up and down against the side of the pool as many times. Yet this day the movement of the water got him thinking about why the water would move. As he thought about it, seeing the water movement in the light of his new questions, everything came together and he had a powerful insight about the displacement of water. That experience was an epiphany for him. He saw water in a new light because of that experience.

The three Kings are from distant Persia and represent the outer reaches of humanity back in the days of the Roman Empire. They are pagans and strangers, yet God works it that they feel the need to encounter Christ. They undertake a great journey and through a series of angel guided experiences finally see the baby Jesus, as we read in the Gospel. Christ has come for everyone, whether Jewish, Greek, Roman, Persian or American. Even during his first days of life on Earth his light is not hidden. People from all walks of life and from all over the known world are drawn to him. They see him and their lives are not the same anymore.

            We live 2000 years after Christ first showed himself to humanity. The feast of the Epiphany is not just about the three Kings or how people 2000 years ago saw Christ and experienced a transforming moment. Otherwise, it is only a quaint religious holiday with little relevance to anyone today. The feast of the Epiphany is about you and me.

            In one sense, we are the kings searching for meaning in our lives. We are the kings who while wealthy, educated and living comfortable lives undertook a journey to a far country seeking the promised one of all ages. We have brought along everything that is of value to us, as did the first kings with their gold, frankincense and myrrh, hoping to give them to the Lord. We seek to see the Lord; to encounter Him and be transformed by that epiphany.

            In another sense, we are the Body of Christ present in the world today. If someone is going to see Christ, that will happen as that person looks upon you and I. It is our compassion, our concern, our willingness to serve those among us who are in need that an epiphany is possible today. Like the star-girl in the movie Stardust, our lives lived in Christ as his disciples, give off a glow that is impossible to miss. It is in the light of our lives, lived in Christ, that his light is made evident in the world today. Like the Christmas star that leads the three kings to the Christ child, we can be the means of an epiphany for those around us who yearn for Christ.

Also read A Course in Christian Spirituality by Deacon Shewman that is available through this link.

(c) 1997-2008. Richard Shewman. All stories, articles, reflections and other written material contained in this website are the creative fruit and property of Richard Shewman. All rights are reserved. The written material contained in this website may not be reproduced or published in any form, except for the individual and personal use of the reader, without the express consent of the author.