Friday, January 4, 2013

Epiphany Proclamation: 2013

JESUS MAFA. The Three Wise Men, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.

In the first lesson for the Feast of Epiphany the prophet proclaims, "Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you" (Isaiah 60:1 NRSV).  For those in the Northern hemisphere who must rise out of their beds in the early hours of the morning it may be difficult to affirm this insight.  Yet, if we are observant, we notice that it is lighter earlier this week than last week, and that next week the sun will rise earlier. 

For many the fussiness of Christmas is over, except for packing and storing Christmas decorations, the thank you notes for soon to be forgotten gifts that parents ask their children to write to distant relatives, and paying the bills that will arrive in January.  Yet, before we return to the humdrum of our ordinary lives, we are called to stop and behold the child.

The light has come. 

Like the wise rulers we behold the infant and return to our worlds by a different route, intrigued and perplexed by our experience of beholding the divine in human flesh. However we soon realize that today does not look any different than yesterday, or a thousand yesterdays.  Torture, hunger, climate change, domestic violence, human trafficking, continue. Yet, we can not help but affirm the prophet's proclamation:

The light has come.

Perhaps it is because the incarnation reminds us that we are not alone.  The  struggle for justice and peace is a difficult one.  But we are not alone. 

Dorothy Sayers wrote: -->
"That for whatever reason God chose to make man as he is - limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death - he had the honesty and courage to take His own medicine. Whatever game he is playing with His creation, He has kept His own rules and played fair. He can exact nothing from man that He has not exacted from himself. He has Himself gone through the whole of human experience, from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair, and death. When He was a man, He played the man. he was born in poverty and died in disgrace and thought it well worth it" ("The Greatest Drama Ever Staged: Is the Official Creed of Christendom", in Christian Letters To A Post-Christian World, published by Eerdmans. 1969).

God is with us.  Emmanuel.  The light has come.

And so we enter Epiphany and Ordinary time (from the Latin, tempus per annum, time through the year)  and are invited to accompany Jesus on a journey. As we journey we will encounter wonders, disappointments, miracles, and hardships. Yet we believe. 

God is with us. Emmanuel. The light has come.

Soon the season of Lent will be upon us.  We will examine our lives, priorities, hopes, and fears. Maybe we will experience metanoia, a radical change. God only knows. Yet we know we are not alone in this journey.  

We are with our community.  God is with us.  Emmanuel.  The light has come.

But, we should not rush ahead too quickly as we are culturally programmed to do. Instead, let us recall and reflect on an ancient practice of the church. 

Before personal electronic devices, before the printing press, before most people could read, Christian communities gathered on Epiphany  to hear the dates of the liturgical year, and to be reminded how to live, that is, by following Jesus who guides us on our journey.  "The Proclamation proclaims not only dates but the reality that our lives are to be lived in rhythm with and according to Jesus’ life." (Michael Marsh). This is called the "Epiphany Proclamation".  Today many churches are embracing this ancient practice.

The Rule of St. Benedict reminds us, "always we begin again."

We are with our community.  God is with us.  Emmanuel. The light has come.

The Epiphany Proclamation 2013:

Dear brothers and sisters,
the glory of the Lord has shone upon us,
and shall ever be manifest among us,
until the day of his return.

Through the rhythms of times and seasons
let us celebrate the mysteries of salvation.

Let us recall the year's culmination,
the Easter Triduum of the Lord:
his last supper, his crucifixion, his burial,
and his rising celebrated
between the evening of the Twenty-Eighth day of March
and the evening of the Thirtieth day of March,
Easter Sunday being on the Thirty-First day of March.

Each Easter -- as on each Sunday --
the Holy Church makes present the great and saving deed
by which Christ has for ever conquered sin and death.
From Easter are reckoned all the days we keep holy.

Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent,
will occur on the Thirteenth day of February.

The Ascension of the Lord will be commemorated on the Ninth day of May.

Pentecost, joyful conclusion of the season of Easter,
will be celebrated on the Nineteenth day of May.

And, this year the First Sunday of Advent will be
on the First day of December.

Likewise the pilgrim Church proclaims the passover of Christ
in the feasts of the holy Mother of God,
in the feasts of the Apostles and Saints,
and in the commemoration of the faithful departed.

To Jesus Christ, who was, who is, and who is to come,
Lord of time and history,
be endless praise, for ever and ever.


No comments:

Post a Comment