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Epiphany – The Light of Christ Revealed

The news this week erupted as a mob stormed the Capital, and our nation seemed to rock on its axis. Here we are again, facing harsh political realities and asking difficult questions.

Today the Bishop and clergy of the Diocese of Arizona were on a preplanned Zoom meeting to discuss plans for Ash Wednesday and preparation for Easter. That conversation was sidelined by our collective shock, grief, and discernment about the role of church in another moment of national crisis.

It is time to admit that this is a national crisis, and one that is not likely to be resolved in two weeks. What are we to do?

As a priest and pastor I have tried to stay “lashed to the mast of the Gospel,” as Eugene Peterson wrote years ago in The Contemplative Pastor. I am trying to stay true to that call even now.

The reference is to the Odyssey when Odysseus is tied to the mast of his ship so that he can hear the sirens calling to his crew to tempt them to crash on the treacherous rocks on either side, while still being able to direct his sailors through the straits to safer seas.

We must be careful to steer toward God’s safety and not the false promises that are offered in the temptations to either side of this moment. Our hope is in the Way of Christ.

As Christians we are a royal priesthood, children of the Living God, and heirs with Christ of his Kingdom. We do not stand as a national church or as a local congregation, though we are both of those things. We are part of the church universal that reaches around the globe and into every corner of it. We are the bearers of the Light of Christ.

That Light was not threatened yesterday, but it has been dimmed in our generation by our sinfulness.  It is always this way, precious Truth is always held in fallible hands. But we can make better choices than we have been. 

How can we be faithful and carry the Light of Christ with integrity in our day?

  1. We can examine our political beliefs and our statements before we send them out into the world, hold them up to that Light, and purge them of that which is against the clear teachings of Christ. If our words cannot bear the Word, then we should remain silent.
  2. We must speak in a manner that is consistent with the message of grace. Jesus told a lot of people uncomfortable things, but he always did so without condemning the other person or denigrating them as human beings.
  3. We can pray. 

Prayer for us is not merely lifting up our own lists, fear, and praises, but it is also importantly lifting up the concerns, hopes, confessions, and praises of our family, church, nation, and world. We are a royal priesthood, and the world needs us this Epiphany season to hold up the Light of Christ faithfully.

Stay lashed to the mast of the Gospel,

-daniel+

The Rev. Daniel Paul Richards
Christ Church of the Ascension
Paradise Valley, Arizona