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Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Epiphany--getting our groove back together
I happened across a great quote yesterday on the trailer of Jim Hampton's (Asbury Youth Ministry Professor) email.

"Hope is the ability to hear the music of the future; faith is having the courage to dance to it today." Peter Kuzmic

This is the work of worship in the season of Epiphany. We must find our way to a vantage point-- a high lookout-- where we can gaze across the vistas of God's Kingdom. We must look up and see the star and then train our eyes on the horizon to catch a glimpse of the obscure wise Kings, unlikely subjects making pilgrimage to worship the peasant child-Royal. We must recalll the "sign" a "baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger" and remember the wandering sheep herders who in God's economy merited angelic visitation and divine invitation. Has it occurred to us that poverty was the sign of Divinity. It brings new dimension to the haunting question of the judgment, "Lord, when did we see you?" We must re-visit the crowded temple courts and scan the crowds for the obscure Galilean family making their way to the pigeon counter while cradling their infant child. Only two "saw" them that day, Anna and Simeon, who prophesied. We must make the trek through the wilderness to the waters of the Jordan in order to hear the voice of one crying in the desert--Prepare the Way of the Lord. And we must strain our ears to listen for the Voice, who speaks over the one hidden in the heart of the Father from before the foundation of the World, "This is my Son. My Beloved. With Him i am well pleased.

All of these witnesses, obscure as they were at the time, heard the music, saw the vision and began to learn the dance. The trouble for us is that we can see them now, in the plain light of day and yet miss the point altogether. This is the nature of Epiphany. It is to finally see what we have been looking at for so long. Epiphany happens when the Obvious begins to break forth like the dawning of a new day.

Epiphany is a kind of hearing that becomes seeing. It is a learned way of listening that becomes a visionary way of living. It is to move from the objective observation of texts to an active participation in the holy dialogue of "on earth as it is in heaven."

The challenge is all of our ears are plugged up with our own music. Literally and figuratively, the ipod (of which I own one) is the controlling symbol of our time-- everyone creating their own customized playlist, listening to their own preferences and dancing to their own beat. Another profound symbol-- literally and metaphorically-- is the reality that many churches in our land, both large and small, made the decision to forgo Christmas Day Sunday Morning Corporate Worship in order for people to celebrate the holiday with their families at home. Don't hear this as a shame oriented jab, but rather a reality that bears some significant reflection in a non judgmental post-mortem kind of way. In other words, we can learn something from it. Confession: i didn't go to church on Christmas morning either. Why didn't I?

These are certainly reflections in rough draft and may not be comprehensible at all, but they lead me to ask these kinds of questions: What would it mean for us to really listen for the Music together, to see the Vision together and to begin to dance the Dance together?

"Hope is the ability to hear the music of the future; faith is having the courage to dance to it today."

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posted by John David Walt | at 2/21/2006 09:34:00 AM

 

2 Comments:

Anonymous meme said...

You wrote: Epiphany is a kind of hearing that becomes seeing. It is a learned way of listening that becomes a visionary way of living. It is to move from the objective observation of texts to an active participation in the holy dialogue of "on earth as it is in heaven."

JD, I identify with your revolutionary call to learning visionary ways of living through listening. How does listening transfer into seeing? The story of Moses and the burning bush in Exodus chapter 3, sheds a bit of light on this ephiphany.

Moses is in the wilderness. He can SMELL the earthiness and TASTE the saltiness of the air he is BREATHING. He can FEEL the rhythm of his pulse fall in line with his feet as his body carries him after his father-in-law's sheep. Moses's mind is intimately connected to his body because his mind has learned to negotiate the dessert terrain which his body has maneuvered for forty years. He has faithfully led his adopted flock, his father-in-law's sheep, through the desert for forty year and thereby knows this flock. He understands the needs of its sheeps. He has come to love its sheep as though they were his own. (Acts 7: 29-30)

Moses's body and mind have been united through the outerward disciplines of grace: simplicity, solitude, submission, and service. His bodily reflexes are therein able to response to God's presence when Moses sees God's angel igniting flames within a bush. He responses to his heightened SENSORY ability to SEE God's radiance by moving toward the radiance.

Notice the fear Moses experiences following his body's expanded, sensory capacity for SEEING. The overwhelming feeling connected to Moses' heightened SENSORY ablility to SEE God's radiance causes Moses to hide his face. Moses is overwhelmed because he is so amazed by the feelings engenered during this experience.

He probably feels betrayed by his body and mind's intimate conection because this intimacy of mind and body requires him to ABIDE in more EXPERIENCE, and therein FEELING than he thinks himself capable. Moses' 40 year embrace of the outward disciplines of grace enables him not only to EXPERIENCE greater sensory capacity, but requires him to WILLINGLY and ACTIVELY expand this sensory capacity.

Following Moses' new sensory capacity for sight, God instructs Moses to remove his shoes which keep the soles of Moses's feet from interacting with the dirt of the earth and therein FEELING the fullest SENSORY experience of TOUCH.

JD, you asked, " What would it mean for us to really listen for the Music together, to see the Vision together and to begin to dance the Dance together?"

Seeing the Vision together and dancing the Dance together may simply look like smelling and tasting the SALTY earthiness of the air through corporate disciplines of grace: confession, worship, guidance, and celebration and then willing digging our toes into the dirt together. What is the dirt? Well, after Moses removes his shoes and soils his feet, where does God tell him to go and what does GOd tell him to do?

4:08 PM EST  
Blogger JohnDeere said...

he said. . . . . . .LET MY MEME GO! ;-)

8:33 PM EST  

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