January 6, 2016
Many religious traditions celebrate this Wednesday, January 6th, as the Feast of the Epiphany, Twelfth Night, or as many New Orleanians know it — Kings’ Day. Our readings are on the subject of epiphany — that sudden leap of understanding that comes through spiritual intuition. In an article from the Christian Science Sentinel, “Epiphany in the trenches,” Bible scholar Mary Trammell wrote,
Such moments of epiphany, of awareness that God, divine Spirit, is immediately present, bring a spiritual poise and grace in the midst of any challenge. Peace pervades, and disruption fades. Courage grows, and terror shrinks. God’s eternal care is seen, and the limits of time back away. And ultimately, Spirit triumphs, and material pressures dissolve. They dissolve in the light of a spiritual perspective, where everything looks different. The impossible becomes possible. The dead-end road becomes a wide highway forward.
I have been relaxing in an epiphany lately. Perhaps it is one you’ve already noticed — where Mrs. Eddy defines Christ two ways – 1) the divine manifestation of God; 2) which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error. (SH 583). Christ is 1) the Son and 2) the real man and his relation to God (SH 316); 1) the name of Truth and 2) the demonstration of Truth (SH 135) or Immanuel repeating itself (SH xi), the ascending and descending cycles of light (SH 135). In other words, I had never noticed that Jacob’s ladder could be a metaphor for the Christ as the Door or the Way!
Here is another cool thought. The commentary in the New Revised Standard states the following about Nathanael under the fig tree: “Several Rabbinic texts equate gathering figs with studying the Torah, suggesting Nathanael’s status as student” (p. 1884). Mrs. Eddy makes a reference to sitting “beneath your own vine and fig tree as the growth of spirituality…” (Mis. 154). So, if Isaac Newton could sit under an apple tree and have a physics epiphany about the law of gravity, and Nathanael could sit under a fig tree and have an epiphany about the Christ, then when we are studying the Pastor, we are sitting under our own fig tree!
Do you remember when we started the Christmas season with a series of Bible stories about angels, including the angel standing in the path of Balaam and his talking donkey? Did you know there was a connection between Balaam’s prophecy and the New Testament Wisemen? The article, “Witnessing the Divine,” in the Bible History Daily, comments:
The magi’s special role as witnesses to the true faith was also noted by the church father Origen, who read the magi’s stories in light of the prophecies of Balaam. According to Origen, after the star appeared to the magi, they noticed that their magic spells faltered and their power was sapped. Consulting their books, they discovered the prophecy of the oracle-reader Balaam, who saw a rising star “com[ing] out of Jacob” (Numbers 24:17) that indicated the advent of a great ruler of Israel. The magi thus conjectured that this ruler had entered the world. So, the magi traveled to Judea to find this ruler, and based on their reading of Balaam’s prophecy, the appearance of the comet and their loss of strength, they determined that he must be superior to any ordinary human—that his nature must be both human and divine. The magi, for Origen, are not simply Jesus’ first visitors, but the first to recognize Jesus as messiah.
I am sorry about such a long email, but I really love the subject of epiphany. Perhaps you have an “epiphany” to share with us this Wednesday!