Ever had one of those moments when you got to look at something in a new way? I had one just the other day. It was Sunday morning and I was struggling with my shirt, which had French cuffs. French cuffs are cut extra-long so you can fold them over and use cuff links to put them together. They look great but they clearly were designed for another age, the age of Downton Abbey, when gentlemen of a certain position in life had valets to help them dress.
So, Sunday morning, I had my shirt on and was struggling with my cuff links like I always do. That’s when my wife, who was watching my contortions, said, “Why don’t you put the cuff links on the sleeves first and then put your shirt on.”
Long pause. My mind raced through the possibilities. What if the cuff is too tight and my hands don’t fit through the sleeves? Pushed my hands through the cuffs—they fit. Next excuse. I’d never done it that way before. So what? Then it hit me. She was right. It would be easier.
Thanks to Joyce, I had an “aha” moment, and I said, “”Huh. I’d never looked at it that way before.”
And there they are, the eight words of enlightenment. Those precious words we utter, or keep to ourselves out of embarrassment, when we have that moment of insight or revelation. Another word for that is epiphany, and that’s the season of the church year we are in right now.
The Bible contains many “aha” moments, or epiphanies, when God breaks through the hardened shell of human beings to reveal something marvelous about God’s self.
- Christmas was one such occasion. God took on human form, became one of us, to save us from ourselves. “He became what we are that we might become what he is.” That’s how St. Athanasius, a deacon in the church of Alexandria in Egypt put it during the early Church’s debates over the divinity of Christ. God put on mortality so that we might become immortal through Christ. That’s still Good News for those who never looked at it that way before.
- The Magi coming to Jerusalem in search of the new born king had their “aha” moment when they asked where to find the new born king of the Jews. They’d followed the star but needed to know where to look for the Messiah. Who knew? The scribes, the educated men of the Jewish Temple, knew where to look. In Bethlehem of Judea; that’s where the prophecies say the Messiah is to be born. The Magi went and found the child and his family, just as the scriptures had said. But what about those scribes? They had the information about the Messiah, but they didn’t go themselves. I wonder why? Were they afraid of King Herod? Or had they heard the prophecies so many times and seen too many failed messiahs that they no longer believed God would actually, one day, fulfill God’s promise? Maybe the scribes never looked at it that way before.
All of us get stuck in a rut, a singular viewpoint, and are guilty of putting on blinders from time to time. But epiphanies, large and small, come our way to help us see things from another point of view.
I pray this year will allow us to see new possibilities, new avenues and new opportunities to grow closer to God and to share God’s love with our world. Early this year, our vision process will come to fruition. As we take this time to examine ourselves, our community and God’s Word for us, may God grant us an “aha” moment, an epiphany, a moment of enlightenment in the Lord, so that we can see the way ahead God has in store for us. May we be like the Magi in following God’s Light. And may we be blessed in the doing of the will of Him who died for us that we might live for Him.