“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them...”
This month we will begin our Lenten journey together, as Ash Wednesday falls on February 14th this year. The season of Lent is a time of repentance, renewal, and rededication as we prepare for Easter. We start by reminding ourselves and one another of our mortality with the imposition of ashes and the words, “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return”.
Epiphany and the New Year “On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests. They offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and, myrrh.”
The magi, or wise men, travelled from a land far east of Israel; they were “foreigners” culturally, ethnically, and religiously. They made their trek to honor a newborn king who was coming for all people, indeed for the whole world! The “Epiphany of our Lord” was the manifestation of Jesus Christ to Gentiles – ALL people – as represented by the magi.
Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O
Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!”
Isaiah 40: 9
Mountains and valleys – our lives are full of mountains and valleys. We are approaching a “mountain top” of the church year, the seas on of Christmas. It is a high point for many people, emotionally, as favorite music is played and sung, as families prepare to gather, and as children anticipate the holiday celebration and gifts. It is a high point, spiritually, as we commemorate the birth of Jesus, the Christ Child; the moment when God became flesh to dwell among us – a God willing to be vulnerable and humble, born in a stable, and laid in manger. A God willing to enter the greatest darkness of our human experience and emerge as a light of hope, peace, and everlasting life.