By Pastor Paula Lund Burchill
We have begun the season of Epiphany which will last until we begin Lent at the end of February. During Epiphany we hear stories of Jesus being revealed as God’s son. We light candles to proclaim that Jesus is the light of the whole world. We celebrate our baptism as the beginning of our calling to be lights in our work, our relationships and our communities.
Epiphany is the season of the “a-ha.” It is full of surprises. And since it always falls at the beginning of the year, it’s a great opportunity to ask some questions.
I was celebrating Epiphany with some old friends and some new ones with a big bonfire made with our Christmas trees on January 6. As we warmed ourselves by that great big light, my friend asked us if we had had any epiphanies this past year. A few people shared stories, and then my friend told her own.
One of the people at the campfire had just moved to the neighborhood in the past year. Shortly after the neighbor moved in, she got a text from the neighbor inviting her to go to a movie. She said, “I didn’t think you could invite someone you just met to a movie. My epiphany was that you can. And I’m so glad my neighbor did. Because now we are good friends.”
I love that epiphany. And as I looked around the fire at that neighborhood connected by a bonfire and taking a chance and inviting someone I had an epiphany of my own.
So often, I think we don’t reach out to others because we worry that they will say no, or we don’t know them well enough, or they might be tired or we are tired. We make up all kinds of excuses. But what if we said, I’m going to send a text, or make a call, or walk over and just ask. Want to go to a movie? Need some help with your raking? I have some extra dinner—do you want some? Would you like to go for a walk? Want to come to my church? Then we let go of the result. They might say yes, they might say no. But we invited–and who knows how that might light up someone’s life.
A lot of the stories we will hear during Epiphany will be the stories of Jesus calling his disciples. One of my favorite things about those stories is how NON-dramatic they are. A guy is fishing and Jesus says, “Hey, do you want to fish for people?” Another person is just sitting under a tree and Jesus tells him to “come and see” what he is doing. And when they follow Jesus, and he is revealed as God’s son, they become his community—through whom his light eventually spread to you and to me.
Loneliness has become an epidemic, and when you are lonely it is particularly difficult kind of darkness. But we were created to be in community with each other. Maybe our lights can shine in this dark world as we take a chance and invite someone in. What an epiphany that would be!