Luke 3:15-17, 21-22/ Isaiah 60:1-6/ Isaiah 43:1-7/ Ephesians 3:1-12
Epiphany of God, In Us and Through Us
It is said that Archimedes uttered the word eureka when he hit upon a method of determining the purity of gold. Eureka is a Greek word that means “found.” It is also said that Isaac Newton had a eureka moment concerning gravity when an apple fell from a tree, although scientists doubt that this actually happened.
We also have these eureka moments in our lives, and often, and when we do, we claim that we had an epiphany. Both words, eureka and epiphany are about revealed knowledge, a sudden realization. That is why, in cartoons, you see a lightbulb when someone has an epiphany. Light reveals things to us.
A little while ago, I experienced one of these moments. For a long time, I had been identifying as bisexual. Then I learned about pansexuality and thought it sounded like me. You see, bisexuals are attracted to both genders and pansexuals are attracted to individuals regardless of their genders or lack thereof. My sudden realization was that, as long as I know that gender is fluid and not binary, calling myself a bi was contributing to the misconception that there are only two genders, thus erasing those who do not identify as either male or female. I believe that language contributes to justice or perpetuate injustice. I no longer identify as bisexual. I am pansexual. I didn’t change; my language did.
Last Thursday was Epiphany and the end of Christmas season. We start this new season with the baptism of Jesus, which is fitting because baptism is an initiation ceremony. It is the official beginning, a legal document that says we are officially God’s children. That is why, upon being baptized, Jesus heard God’s voice confirming, declaring, that he was God’s beloved. We are combining the motives of light and water today because, through this ceremony involving water, we receive the light of God, the realization that we are God’s beloved. That is why we read, “Arise, shine; for our light has come.”
Blessed Water, Scary Water
Water is a complex thing. We are made of water, so we cannot live without water. We know that water is life, but at the same time, water can destroy us. When we hear God’s comforting message in Isaiah, it says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you,” because water can kill us. I find it interesting that the same water that declares God’s love for us through baptism can also destroy us, thus needing God’s protection from it. Water is the same no matter how we use it. It is us to decide how to use it. Same with the light.
Light of God
God shone light upon us and called us God’s beloved. What do we do with this knowledge? Shall we form an exclusive club and judge everyone who does not belong to us? Or shall we carry this light of God into the world and share it? Isaiah chapter 60 says, “Nations shall come to your light.” Light can either gather people or repel them. We should shine our light to gather people, not to repel them.
Living Boldly in Faith
How shall we use the light of God that we received? Ephesians teaches us that we should live boldly through our faith. Through the Gospel of Jesus, God’s grace became accessible to all people, not just the Jews. Living boldly in the faith of Jesus Christ means using our status as God’s beloved to treat others as our siblings, not to exclude them or cause them to suffer.
Remembering Our Baptism
Today, let us affirm that we are God’s beloved. As a way of remembering, or renewing our baptism, you will be anointed with oil. We have been blessed with the Living Water and the light of God, which we will remember while being anointed; then, let us boldly live out our faith and share this blessing. Let us help those in need, uplift the downcast, give hope to the hopeless with our bold life of following Jesus.