January 6, 2018
Revelation as Resistance
Unclench your fists
Hold out your hands.
Let us hold each other.
Thus is his Glory Manifest.
-Epiphany, Madeleine L’Engle
An epiphany is
- a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something.
- an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking.
- an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure.
- For the essential nature or meaning of something to be revealed is revolutionary and changes everything.
- To get an intuitive grasp of reality through some simple, yet striking event, pushes back against the status quo.
- To experience a truth that lights up our lives and the world empowers us to stand up and resist what needs to be challenged.
But what is it that is revealed on this day? What is so striking about today that it should make the state quo defenders tremble? What is the truth that empowers us to resist?
We answer this in the Christian year as the story of the day the Wise Men arrive. While popular culture has combined that with the Christmas Eve narrative, they stand far apart. Mary and Joseph have Jesus in a house now. The angels now bring warning to the travelers instead of tidings of joy. They participate in God’s conspiracy against the government of Herod- they sneak away by another route. That story is a clear instance of resistance and rebellion. It is not to turn Herod into a “believer” or make Judea or Rome a “Christian” place.
The days of Christmas have come to an end. It is Epiphany. All has been revealed, at least for now. Suddenly it is all clear- kind of.
And what is that we now know either more deeply or for a first time or in an entirely new way?
- The essential nature is not power, but humility and poverty and love.
- Reality is the birth of a baby being worshipped by the rich and powerful foreigners under the very nose of the King.
- The truth is that God’s ways are not our ways since none of this makes any sense in the work and ways of this world’s powers.
In such times and with such knowledge Madeleine L’Engel’s words prod and push us into a different understanding.
- The clenched fist of hatred and discrimination is not what God wants, unless it is seen in the helplessness of an infant reaching for love.
- The ways of God are not the actions of racism or greed but rather the open hand reaching to grab the fist of the powerless and downtrodden.
- The light of God illuminating us is knowing that none of us is a stranger to God who knows us more fully than we can ever begin to describe.
- The empowerment found in the revealing of God among us allows us to stand together, holding each other tight with hope.