What a beautiful Sunday! So delightful to welcome Micah to the family of God; to welcome Sarah, Patrick, Elena, Will, Karen, Ralph, Evelyn, Kevin, and Buz to the family of Incarnation; to welcome Katie Foran back as one of our music leaders (we've missed you!); and to welcome the new-to-us traditions of blessing the Epiphany chalk and feasting on Epiphany galette des roos (king cake, each with a hidden-then-revealed baby Jesus). I hope you had a slice of cake and took a piece of chalk for house blessings; send us a picture or tag @incarnationanglican if you chalk your doors!
At Epiphany, we remember the hospitality of the Holy Family in welcoming outsiders —foreign magi — to their home. Throughout this season, we will witness the unfolding of God's hospitality in unexpected people and places, all the way to the ends of the earth. Perhaps God is inviting you to share in his hospitality this Epiphany season. What "outsiders" might you invite to your table/neighborhood coffee shop/favorite walking path?
One place to practice this hospitality is in our small groups, which begin next week. These groups gather to share a meal, catch up on everyone's week, and to pray using one of the prayer liturgies from the Book of Common Prayer (most groups are doing Evening Prayer or Compline). That's it — just a meal, normal conversation, and prayer. The guided liturgy makes prayer feel really accessible. Perhaps you have a friend, coworker, or neighbor you'd like to invite to join you for small group — someone who might be blessed by the hospitality of a warm meal and good company, someone who might be curious to see how Christians pray? Read more and sign up for small groups.
One of my commentaries writes this about the Epiphany story, and I couldn't agree more: "Matthew’s story . . . has often been better understood by poets and artists than by scholars, whose microscopic analysis has missed its essence. Our task as Christian scholars, preachers, and teachers is to seek a deeper understanding of the story through study of its narrative details without losing our wonderment at the story as a whole."
In that spirit of poetry and wonderment, I will leave you with this poem by Jan Richardson, and I pray it blesses you "to be faithful to the next step" on whatever journey you might be taking in this season.
For Those Who Have Far to Travel
An Epiphany Blessing
If you could see the journey whole,
you might never undertake it,
might never dare the first step that propels you from the place you have known toward the place you know not.
Call it one of the mercies of the road: that we see it only by stages as it opens before us, as it comes into our keeping, step by single step.
There is nothing for it but to go, and by our going take the vows the pilgrim takes:
to be faithful to the next step; to rely on more than the map; to heed the signposts of intuition and dream; to follow the star that only you will recognize;
to keep an open eye for the wonders that attend the path; to press on beyond distractions, beyond fatigue, beyond what would tempt you from the way.
There are vows that only you will know: the secret promises for your particular path and the new ones you will need to make when the road is revealed by turns you could not have foreseen.
Keep them, break them, make them again; each promise becomes part of the path, each choice creates the road that will take you to the place where at last you will kneel
to offer the gift most needed— the gift that only you can give— before turning to go home by another way.
- Jan Richardson