Friday, January 5, 2018

New Beginnings: See? I Am Doing a New Thing!—God

Epiphany,  January 6th, 2018

 What is Epiphany? There are two basic definitions. When the word is capitalized, it refers to the annual Feast of Epiphany that is held on January 6th to memorialize the arrival of the Magi in Bethlehem to worship Jesus, the newborn King of the Jews. The second description of epiphany encompasses a personal, and often sudden, insight or revelation of the meaning of something.
The Epiphany that many of us are familiar with is the account of the Magi arriving at King Herod’s Palace in Jerusalem to enquire about the newborn King, whose star they had been following for 2 years. We know that cunning Herod was clueless, and he gathered his advisors in secret to shed some light on this threat-to-his-throne. Returning to address the Magi, Herod feigned interest in honouring the King, too. Herod then directed the Magi to return to the palace to advise him where they had located the new King. When the Magi reached their destiny, they acknowledged Jesus’ Sovereignty when they bowed in worship before the toddler and presented gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The Magi’s revelation of Messiah demonstrated that God included Gentiles in the plan of salvation. And then, warned in a dream of Herod’s evil intentions, they chose an alternate route to returned to their homeland and thus protected the new King. Personal epiphanies often occur when we are wrestling with complex problems. For example, in the fall of 1990 I decided to pursue studies in Early Childhood Education (ECE) By the end of the spring semester of ’91, with transfer and prior learning credits, as well as a couple of mandatory course credits, there were only 2 compulsory courses left to complete the program. By April I had arranged for a required fieldwork placement and child care for our 3.5 yr. old son, which fell apart. Frustrated and exhausted by the mental gymnastics of trying to find another solution, I heard a song on the radio, “Things are only as important as I want them to be.” Too tired to think, I decided to take a nap. My epiphany came in my dreams and when I woke up I had my answer: nothing was as important to me as having our 2nd baby. So I cancelled my fieldwork arrangement.
The characters in the Christmas story experienced their own personal epiphanies, too. Each of them experienced God stepping into their lives to show them the New Thing that He was doing. For example, Mary and Joseph’s love story took several unconventional twists and turns, but they trusted God. The shepherds’ mundane lives were changed when God intervened in the drudgery, sent His angels to break through their darkness with news of Messiah’s birth; suddenly, their lives were filled with joy! And the Magi were changed when they invested 4 years of their lives to see God bursting through with His Light: they wouldn’t have missed the amazing gift of seeing and worshiping the Saviour of the world! These individuals were taken out of their comfort zones and endured various hardships and challenges

How are we similar to the characters in the account of experiencing the truth and wonder of Jesus’ birth? For starters, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. So God steps into our lives to shake us out of our complacency, too. So, this year we have used the theme: “New Beginnings: I Am Doing a New Thing!—God, to take a fresh look at the Nativity account to discover the new thing God was doing in His people’s lives throughout this amazing historical account. My hope and prayer is that each of us has been asking God to show us the New Thing that He is doing in our lives. May He give you the epiphany that you are seeking.

Blessings & Peace

Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk
Former Salvation Army Officer (pastor)

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