Thursday, January 23, 2014

Episcopal Church of the Epiphany
Rev Cynthia Hizer

This second Sunday of the Epiphany, the second Sunday after the revelation of the light of Christ, comes to us in the form of a wedding, a marriage, a promise.

At this party, where we experience the revelation of the first miracle, we luxuriate in the abundance of good wine served last, of lowly people – the disciples and Mary, jesus’ mother - being the wise ones. It’s a lively time -  this big wedding party. Feasting and drinking from the river of delight and justice like the great deep.

This is the vision for us to hold on to –
to grab onto with a burning torch. It takes courage, the courage of a burning torch to hold on to this vision of justice and promise that come to us through marriage, through a wedding feast.

But this is not the first time we have this kind of luxurious party, this garden of delights in the face of a darker shadow

Back on the first Sunday of November, when we observed The Feast of All Souls, we came in here with candles and pictures of our loved ones, felt the weight of sorrow, and in the midst of it we had a similar reading from Isaiah –
again we were feasting and drinking well-aged wine and rich food filled with marrow. We saw our beloveds luxuriating in the warmth and glow of the resurrected light.

So from November, to today, we are back to this feasting, this party, this lovely wine and tinkling glasses.
We are back to seeing the world as one big festivity,  an abundance of well-being bestowed by a loving and gracious God from the beginning of time.

To find the place where we can be part of the solution to the pain in the world, we have to go back to that beginning.

Back to the marriage.
Back to the covenant.
Back to the original party where God shined light on the Christ child,
-- so the magi could find him,
-- so we can find him, in the manger, at the party, turning water to wine,
constantly bestowing his goodness for the welfare of all, so that everyone at the party can have an equally good time.

This is the heart of the season of Epiphany, as we go back to when we made a commitment to each other’s well being.

A month ago I was walking near my farm. It was dusk, as I neared the wildlife federation, a lovely wild place, a marginalized place that we have had to fight to protect.

It was near-darkness, so I decided to not enter the federation land but to turn toward home.
It was foggy that evening, with a moistness that made the air soft and pliable, and the birds were making a racket,
as I fell under the shadow of their wings.  With leaves gone I could make out every squirrel nest and clump of mistletoe as I scanned the top limbs of trees.

I realized in that moment that I finally felt married to this land – in covenant with this land – not land I had planned to live on and love forever –
I am still a yankee at heart.
But here I was, committed now, knowing that this land and I were in it for the long haul.

I started to turn away but something caught my attention. A tree caught my attention.
In fact, a giant ancient oak tree at the edge of the wood not only caught my attention but drew me into its embrace. I don’t know how else to describe what happened between the oak tree and me, except a kind of marriage.

A kind of promise to each other.
I sat under the tree until well past dark, and committed myself to making life as good as possible for this aging oak as it sent its sheltering arms over me. I felt the tree and I become one entity, no separation between us. We were in it together for our mutual well-being – what happened to me happened to it, what happened to the tree and the land, happened to me.

It is a promise, as, through the common bonds of humanity, we commit ourselves to others. Because we live together. In the largest scheme of things, we are all married to each other.
What happens to others – the poorest or marginalized or soul-sick, happens to us. it is more extreme than that -  we are really one, we are each other, with no separation.
Like the oak and me.

 So we are called, as spirit people, as people on a path to harmony, to hold up this vision, and hold it up with not one little candle, but with a burning torch.
We will not keep silent, we will not rest, until all the world experiences this marriage this luxury, this unity, this flowing goodness bestowed from before time
by a loving and gracious God.

In the last two weeks we have had baptisms and confirmations and receptions here at Epiphany – people eager to be on the path to this wholeness, to this party that God started and we are called to complete. People sitting among us in the pews so eager for this good news, so ready to be part of the solution to the pain in the world –  people who have had an epiphany – a revelation of the light, the burning torch that will guide us toward the dream of peace.