Friday, February 3, 2012

The Fifth Sunday in Epiphany--a Meditation

"When we walk to the edge of all
    the light we have
and take that step into the darkness
    of the unknown,
we must believe that one of two things
     will happen--
There will be something solid for us
    to stand on,
Or, we will be taught how to fly."
  --Patrick Overton, The Learning Tree

This is mid-Epiphany. The season of light. God knows we need some light. Those who sit in the pews this Sunday—or any Sunday—come seeking “the kindly light.” To a people in Exile Isaiah wrote about the greatness of God. (Is. 21f.) In verses 28-31 we stumble on that greatest of mountain peaks. “They that wait for the Lord shall renew their strength...” Isaiah seemed to be saying that the exiles had to lift up their eyes beyond the terrors and nightmares of their days and see a larger picture which could help carry them through.

Someone asked Maya Angelou, about her own circuitous journey, “Why is God so crucial in your life?” She said, “The most delicious piece of knowledge for me is that I am a child of God.” She went on to say: “It seems to me that if we accept—if I accept-- the fact of evil, I accept the fact of good. We’re all doing what Anne Sexton calls ‘that awful rowing toward God.’ That excites me. It gives me incredible delight to be alive, and prepares me with as little fear as possible for death.”

Turning toward this week in February—there is scary news from Israel and Iran. Could we be on the brink of yet another war? The economy slowly improving and yet there are still millions out there without jobs and many without hope. The Republican candidates for President seem to flounder more and more and the attacks on our sitting President continue unremittingly. What a way to run a railroad.

Isaiah knew and it looks like Maya Angelou learned along the way that we have to lift up our eyes even beyond the hills until we are staring mystery and wonder in the face. In this season of light perhaps this week’s Old Testament text nudges us to something holier and healthier than this morning’s news.

Dr. Kosuke Koyama was a Japanese theologian of an earlier era. He saw the bombs rain down on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing thousands and maiming many more. But somewhere he saw a light which did not blur the pain of his life—but made it a little more understandable. In talking about death, Dr. Koyama recalled the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. He said Jesus will be the same way today. “Looking into our eyes and heart, Jesus will say: ‘You’ve had a difficult journey. You must be tired and dirty. Let me wash your feet. The banquet is ready’.” Such a vision carries me through and I hope you too. We are not alone. The light has come and the darkness cannot put it out. Thanks be to God.

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