At Pittsboro Presbyterian Church one of the highlights of weekly worship is what we refer to as “glimpses of God.” The Pastor invites congregants to share any experience they may have had during the prior week in which they have perceived God at work in their lives.
Glimpses of God could also be defined by another Church idiom, Epiphany. Epiphany refers specifically to the manifestation of the divine nature of Jesus to the Magi. After their long journey from the East, the Wise Men were rewarded with a special “glimpse of God” when they beheld the baby Jesus under the divine light of that guiding star.
This year the Christian Church observed the feast of the Epiphany on Wednesday, January 6 (12 days after Christmas). It is a festival that is easily overlooked since it typically falls mid-week. But this year it was also overshadowed by breaking news that shocked the world, the storming of the US Capitol by domestic terrorists – upon invitation of the POTUS and his sycophants.
For the average person on the street the term epiphany has no religious overtones. Rather it is synonymous with an “Aha moment,” an instant when the proverbial light bulb is switched on. An epiphany is that moment of realization when something that has been hidden suddenly becomes clear as a bell. It’s a time of awakening when the hidden Truth is revealed, and life is never quite the same again.
For the two men on the street/road to Emmaus after the Easter resurrection, their epiphany (glimpse of God) came with the realization and assurance that the risen Christ was in their midst. For Saul (renamed Paul), the persecutor of the early followers of Christ, his epiphany came on the street/road to Damascus when he was converted to become an apostle for Christ.
In the aftermath of the seditious and polarizing events of January 6 and the subsequent 2nd controversial impeachment of the 45th POTUS, it is evident that for America to survive and thrive we need a big dose of Truth serum. We need an Epiphany. We need it as much as we need a massive “anti-pandemic” shot it the arm. When a large number of the populace believe the “Big Lie” about the “Big Steal” and nearly all the GOP members of Congress perpetuate that fallacious falsehood, the time is long overdue for an American “Aha moment,” a revealing “glimpse of God” an authentic Epiphany.
Too much of America remains in a state of disinformation, a state of discord and a state of denial in order for democracy to flourish and the common good to prevail. Based on a Jan. 8-10 survey of 1,995 registered voters nationwide, “Just 27 percent of GOP voters now say they trust U.S. elections, down from 30 percent in late December and 72 percent in late September. Even fewer Republicans (22 percent) say the 2020 presidential election was free and fair. And a similar share say the same about the recent Georgia Senate elections, despite relatively quick and unqualified concessions from the two Republican candidates — a potential signal that distrusting the validity of unfavorable outcomes is the new default position for much of the right.”
Why is this so? A partial answer was revealed in the late hours of 1/6 and the early morn of 1/7. As horrific as the sight of home grown marauders attacking the stronghold of democracy was following an inciteful rally, equally as outrageous was the sight of elected legislators in the wake of the riot continuing to breathe oxygen into the Big Lie through their CPR (Complicit Pernicious Rhetoric), attacking the validity of the 2020 election (see details HERE). Rather than championing Truth and Justice by driving a stake into the heart of the Lie, they fanned the flames of discord and disbelief, breathing new life into their monster of deceit that grows bolder and more lethal by the day.
Today, January 15, nine days after the day of infamy, is the birthday of an American champion of Truth, Justice and Equity. Had he not been taken from us by an assassin’s bullet, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have been 92 today. As a nation we will celebrate his life in a mere three days. MLK Jr. Day provides an opportunity for citizens of this young experiment in democracy to remember his words and deeds as he dreamed about and worked to establish across this land his own “glimpse of God,” his epiphany of what he called the “Beloved Community.”
The Beloved Community is a glimpse of heaven on earth and a prescription for a healthy society. Words from the King Center explain his epiphany:
“Dr. King’s Beloved Community is a global vision in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth. In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.”
In the words of Dr. King, himself:
“The end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the Beloved Community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opponents into friends. It is this type of understanding goodwill that will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.”
God’s Word and Sacraments are epiphanies through which we are given a glimpse of God’s intentions. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of Grace and Truth.” Motivated and empowered by Grace, the Church exists to proclaim, embody and uphold Truth which along with Justice is the foundation for the Beloved Community. In this time of great fear and anger fueled by deceit and selfishness, the Church is called upon to lead with courage toward the moral high ground and plant there the flag of Truth.
May these parting words of Dr. King inspire us to bravely move forward together in good conscience, courageously pressing onward to dispel the darkness of deceit as torch bearers for Truth:
“Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But, conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.”
“We need leaders not in love with money, but in love with justice. Not in love with publicity, but in love with humanity.”