Baptism of Christ by John: Artist Dave Zelenka. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Down under, we are in that part of the year “when nothing happens.” Christmas/New Year is done and decorations are being boxed and put away. While a few are returning languidly to their daily labours and many are still enjoying the long vacation, many wait with bated breath for the contentious date of our official National Day on January 26 to pass, when, hopefully with a sigh of relief, we can all get back to whatever passes for normal living.
And we miss what promises to be the most exciting season on the Christian liturgical calendar – the season of Epiphany which runs from the 13th day of Christmas (January 6) to the eve of the first day in Lent, the 40 day period of preparation for Easter. Epiphany is about God’s glory bursting forth in radiance throughout the cosmos. As we live the annual cycle of the Christ narrative, we internally claim the boon of living as fully divine offspring as a result of the Incarnation, and in preparation for the arduous self- reflection required of the Lenten period. It is a crucial part of the annual prayer rhythm in radiating the Christ story in engagement with and service of the world in its long arc of transformation to completion.
It begins with the story of the visit of the Magi to the Christ household in Bethlehem. The story is brilliant with meaning – universal recognition, understanding and receptivity to the Christ revealed in Jesus, awakening conflict with the status quo and the summons to “go home by another way.”
Next Sunday we will hear Luke’s account of Jesus’ baptism. Again, hear recognition in the divine voice, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
Another Epiphany marker is the first sign offered by Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of John, the wedding feast at Cana where Jesus transforms water into wine, signifying to all present that the long-anticipated consummation of all things has begun.
Here are three pegs on which we (who live south of the Equator) can hang our summer reflections. How does the glory and brilliance of the Christ story fill us as it fills and completes the universe? How do we give expression to an awareness that the Christ who lives in us and transforms us into his likeness evokes Divine recognition and pleasure? How will this translate in supreme service to the world we live in?
Plenty to ponder as we prepare for this year’s adventure.