Preparing for Worship – Brianna Childs, pastoral resident.
The rhythm of the church calendar continues for us this morning. Breathe in. Breathe out. We take the next step in the ancient cycle into Epiphany.
Throughout Scripture, we receive stories of epiphany in various forms. Epiphany means “appearing” or “revealing.” God’s promise to Abraham, Moses and the burning bush, God passing by Elijah, the surrounding radiance to Ezekiel, Mary’s unforeseen future from God and even later the dream about inclusion to Peter. Today, we particularly recognize the three wise men visiting Jesus and the baptism of Jesus.
God revealed things about Godself through all of these stories. I see the threads of inclusion and nearness through them all. It can be difficult to read them and not wish for such direct communication from God for us, or at the very least a big moment that alters the trajectory of one’s life like these people in the Bible. While I do often wish for an audible word from the Lord, I have come to be sure that God is all around us, and we can find God in more moments than we expect.
At the risk of overusing a quote, I’ll return to one by Elizabeth Barrett Browning I used in a sermon:
“Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.”
While we may not necessarily hear from God through the epiphanies of Scripture today, we are surrounded by God trying to speak to us. Every common bush is aflame. What appears to be ordinary is actually quite holy. We must peel back the layers of our jadedness, our busyness and our numbness. Maybe with this new year can come a fresh way of experiencing the world around us. We need only look again to see something new or listen again to hear something new this morning. While God keeps breaking in, sometimes we must also open ourselves up to being epiphanized. (I’m pretty obsessed with that word.)
Would you choose to take off your shoes?
— Brianna Childs