Tuesday, January 06, 2004

The Epiphany

Epiphany. John 6:30-33, 48-51, NIV

Jesus’ disciples were people on the fringes. They felt adrift in their society, deeply feeling their powerlessness in a culture characterized by foreign oppression, political unrest, and a crushing fear of what the future held. Jesus gathered people together and promised them that through his own ministry, God’s saving power was breaking into their world here and now, and that it was bigger than all the institutional evils they could name, as well as their own pain and doubt.

Yesterday we celebrated the feast of the Epiphany, the realization that the light Jesus brings into our lives will eradicate the darkness and fear. God has moved his salvation into our dark world with the force of a blazing star. But we understand, as did the first disciples, that this work is not accomplished all at once. There remains uncertainty and crippling fear. So as they did, we ask Him, “Show us a sign. We believe you, but we need something to hold onto, something more than just words.”

“I am the bread of Life,” He says, “come down from heaven.” The love I show you, the sacrifice I make for you, will be your sign. It will be the foundation of your life, so much that you will commemorate it with the most ordinary of observances, the eating of bread and wine.

In impoverished first century Palestine, bread and wine were the basic elements of a meal. Had the incarnation occurred in Africa, he might have given us rice and water. Here, he might have told us to remember him with coffee and donuts. The point is that the ordinary things have become reminders of His love for us and His promise to heal us and set us free.

So as we acknowledge and lift up to Him our hurts and our fears, let’s give thanks for the ordinary things that are reminders of Him, those graces that empower us to keep waiting for His salvation. God’s redemptive and healing movement in our lives will take many forms: an embrace, an encouraging note, a garden, a good meal – any number of things. What is He placing into your life to empower and heal you? We thank Him for those things, and ask Him to give us more of Himself.

Our sign is in the ordinary things. Hear the words He spoke through the prophet Isaiah: “I am God now and forever. No one can snatch you from me or stand in my way” (43:13).

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