Revelations in our time (Part 2)
February 20, 2018
The word “epiphany” (from the Greek epiphaneia or theophaneia) means “appearance” or “manifestation” of God, and has roots in the word for sunrise or dawn. In our lives of faith, some epiphanies are dramatic and send our lives down a different path. Others are subtler, even commonplace, and influence how we see ourselves and the world. Either way, whether God whispers to us or knocks us for a loop, we are in for a change.
Presbyterians Today recently asked some members of the PC(USA) to share their own epiphanies. The following are some of them:
Never too old to learn
I was reading some children’s books. Molly Bannaky is the real-life story of an indentured English woman who homesteaded in Maryland and fell in love with her African slave. The couple married despite the miscegenation laws of the time. They had four daughters, one of whom was the mother of Benjamin Banneker, an astronomer and mathematician born in 1731. Molly taught Benjamin how to read using her Bible. Banneker was 57 when he discovered astronomy, taught himself, and made the difficult calculations to predict a solar eclipse; 59 when he helped to survey the future capital city, Washington, D.C., and wrote a personal letter objecting to slavery and received a response from Thomas Jefferson, then the secretary of state; and 60 when his almanacs began to be published. Age and race are imagined realities, but the ability to keep learning is a gift of grace.
Anita Coleman, board member, Presbyterian Writers Guild and Presbyterian Women
Forgive me if this sounds like a cliché. I can’t imagine that I am the only one who has had this experience. It’s just that when I think of the revelation of God, God’s sudden appearing and making herself known in my life, I can’t help but think about the birth of my son. Maybe not the birth per se, but that first moment of holding him was a moment when I recognized the love and presence of God in a way that I had never known before. In that moment of holding this small, vulnerable creature in my arms, all the metaphors that I’d heard about God’s parental love for me came into clearer focus. I didn’t love my son because of his merits. I didn’t love him because of his virtues. I loved him because of his existence. His life brought me joy. In that moment, in that way, God became more fully known to me.
Derrick Weston, Arlington Presbyterian Church, Arlington, Virginia
My epiphany came in the garden. In my first season, I managed to harvest one cucumber that cost me roughly $112, due to the cost of building the garden. It was a very tasty cuke. My harvest has grown, but I still have problems I can’t seem to solve. Moths eat any hardy greens, and my zucchini made beautiful blossoms but no fruit. As I stressed over this, in the niches of my yard, a miracle sprouted in my driveway.
A stalk of corn — complete with silk, an ear and kernels — grew out of a crack between the stones. How? Someone seems to feed ears of corn to the squirrels, as I often find cobs dropped in the yard. How can a kernel take root in a crack, but my healthy vine has produced only two cucumbers?
This is what my relationship with God feels like. I am busy working in my neat little box, sometimes hard, sometimes lazily, while miracles are happening all around me. And often the greatest epiphanies come from something I thought was trash, something useless and meaningless. If I step back and look around, who knows what might grow.
Abby King-Kaiser, associate director, Center for Faith and Justice, Xavier University
Small acts of faith
This sexagenarian desires to finish life well. I know our Lord gives mercy and grace freely, and nothing I can give can repay that generosity, but I fret over rapidly fleeting sunsets and waning physical stamina. How do I live this last quarter of my life? What have I left to accomplish for the Lord? Scrolling Facebook, I experienced an epiphany as I read a friend’s thanksgiving for answered prayer. I realized when I bow my head at the keyboard and pray for family, friends and acquaintances, it is not only sustaining those folks in difficult situations, but also it is a testimony to God’s faithfulness. In our cyber-prayers, pain and sorrow is lightened and joy is magnified. Seemingly insignificant acts of faith resound across networks of thousands longing to know their lives matter to God. And I’m at peace in my time and place in the kingdom of God.
Roberta Updegraff, member, Lycoming Presbyterian Church, Williamsport, Pennsylvania
Today’s Focus: Everyday epiphanies
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
Thank you, Lord, for walking with us in the different phases of our lives. Help us always to be attuned to your presence and your will. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.