Sermon for January 3, 2021 Epiphany “Another Way”
One refrain I grew up with was; ‘if at first you do not succeed, try and try again’. For the most part sage advice so long as you keep learning. For we know by now the counsel of Einstein who defined ‘insanity as doing something over and over the same way and expecting different results’. There are ways and there are other ways.
God was really good at pointing this out to the people. Those in the garden were one way and when they shared the fruit from the tree of knowledge they were another way. The people were OK with God when things were going their way but when the going got tough they abandoned God and lived another way, without God.
In the series The Chosen, Jesus heals Mary from the demons that torment her and she says over and over that she was one way and now she is another. When Jesus met Simon and Andrew after they fished unsuccessfully for a night, Jesus suggested they fish another way by casting their nets on the other side and we know how that turned out. Then called them to be fishers but not for fish.
When the Magi arrived to see Jesus, they honoured him with gifts and went home by another route. Shortly after that Mary and Joseph were cautioned to leave, not for home just yet but home via another way, after a stay in Egypt.
In our day we continue to wonder why it is so strange to be and do things another way. With Jesus, another way is the norm. No matter how you come to Jesus, you will be another way. You will look like you but you will be another way because you are filled with the Spirit of justice and love. And you see all people and creation in another way.
Epiphany really means an ‘Aha’ moment. Other synonyms would include: vision, revelation, insight, discovery, enlightenment or flash idea. From the Christmas story in the bible it is marked by the Magi arriving to see ‘King Jesus’ only to have an aha moment upon discovering Jesus as an infant. They did not question that this infant was not the purpose of their travels or that this infant was not going to be the recipient of the gifts. With knowledge and trust they believed, offered reverence and gifts and went their way. Oh and did you get the part where they returned home by another way?
If we have learned nothing else this year, we know with certainty that Epiphany is not limited to one single day but can happen on any day at any time. The whole Christian story can fall into the same motif. Some have Christmas moments in August, some Easter moments in November and some moments of transfiguration in January. We have grown accustomed to having one day for each event but there is another way. As it has always been, God is not interested in the boxes we create to define God or Jesus or Spirit. With God there is always another way.
I and we have learned plenty in this past year marked by COVID-19, new ways of worship, new technologies, reviving old technologies like gardening and sewing and reading, new appreciation for family and friends, renewed interest in our planet, appreciating all workers and an awareness that yes I can and yes we can, for no matter what colour, gender, race, creed or origin, we are…together.
As this new year unfolds may we hold dearly to the traditions and customs that bind us together and at the same time be open to…another way.