Epiphanies – old and new

As we enter into a new calendar year – 2012, we also enter a new liturgical season – Epiphany. Epiphany begins on January 6 and ends on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday when the season of Lent begins. The word epiphany means “a manifestation, or appearance” or “a sudden revelation or insight”, usually about God. During the season of Epiphany, we hear gospel accounts of the experiences of those to whom Jesus was revealed as the Christ, beginning with the wise men who traveled to “pay homage to the child who has been born king of the Jews”, then to John the Baptist, until Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James and John on the Mount. Holy moments treasured for centuries.


The question for all of us during this Epiphany season is, “How has the incarnation of God in Christ been revealed to you in your life? What prayer or worship experience, bible study or pastoral ministry do you need that would enhance this revelation for you?”    Unfortunately, we cannot engineer or orchestrate an epiphany from God; those moments usually catch us by surprise, and we can’t hold onto them, or make them happen again, although we try. But we remember those insights about God. God is like that, always surprising us with new insights at unexpected moments that make us reflect and grow deeper in our faith in God. Apparently, God is not finished revealing God’s self to us.


For January-February, the Wednesday evening Theological Book Group is discussing, Encountering God: a Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras, by Diana L. Eck, a faithful Methodist and Professor of Comparative Religion at Harvard University. She begins her book with her own story of growing up in Bozeman, Montana in a fairly homogeneous community of Christians. But during college, she takes a year in Banaras, India, on the River Ganges, where she had an epiphany about Christ. She wrote, “There was not much in Bozeman that could have prepared me for Banaras”, where she realized that “Christians were not the only ones nourished by faith and empowered by their faith to work to change the world…. As a Christian I began to realize that to speak of Christ and the meaning of incarnation might just mean being radically open to the possibility that God really encounters us in the lives of people of other faiths.” Her statement confirms my own experiences with non-Christians in interfaith dialogue where we discover that we are all children of the one and same God, but have been given different traditions and practices. Can the incarnation of God be made manifest in the lives of non-Christians? A challenging question. Yet I do believe that Christ will come again, and so we must be open to God’s ongoing revelations. Pray, watch and listen for an epiphany, for an appearance of God in Christ at times and places, and with people whom we don’t expect to experience God’s Word.

This entry was posted in The Rev. Dr. Carol M. Flett and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Epiphanies – old and new

  1. Noell Sottile says:

    Amen. –Noell S.

  2. Gordon Avery says:

    Carol, I agree. To insist that belief in the divinity of Jesus is the only pathway to grace, over the whole world and throughout history, is to belittle God’s breadth and God’s love. My understanding is that God loves diversity and respects the diversity even among us who are members of the same parish. Thanks for your thoughts. Gordon

  3. Anne Strahan says:

    Please have Annemarie change my email address to:


    Thanks, Anne Strahan

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