A Little More Epiphany, Please . . .


So . . .
Yesterday was Epiphany Sunday.
And on my calendar, we are now in the season of Epiphany.

Some call this Ordinary Time, this season-between-the-seasons.
Christmastide just past, Lent just ahead — yes, to call this time ordinary
seems right and good.

But I love the idea of epiphany spreading itself out into ordinary time.
Epiphany — revelation/insight/an experience of ‘sudden and striking realization.’
Yes, I could use a little of that just now.

The new year begins, and this one feels like an out-of-control freight train already.
Too many commitments made, too many unexpected developments in the midst of those commitments.
And very little time to be reflective, to be quiet, to be.

I was glad, then, to be in worship yesterday.
To be in worship twice. In the morning for communion,
in the evening for Taize.

The altar held reminders of the magi, those wise men who followed the star
like an arrow in the sky, bringing their gifts of worth and wealth and death.
They found what they were looking for,
who they were looking for,
and they were smart enough to ‘go home by another way,’
as Sweet Baby James used to sing.

Some days I feel like I need to go home by another way myself.
To change direction in the midst of too much activity, too many people,
and head for home quietly, so that neither suspicion nor attention is roused.

Morning worship was refreshing,
though I dearly missed the renewal of baptismal vows
I had hoped might become a tradition on this Sunday.

Ah, but Sunday evening was that different way home for me, thank God.
Fifty minutes of sung prayer, candlelight, the read word, and silence.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

The altarpiece from the morning remained, though shifted slightly, with candles added.

The sky was still light as we entered, but pitch black as we left,
and that, too, felt exactly right.
Sometimes it’s a good thing to go from light to dark,
to be a little unsure of your footing,
to let the darkness wrap itself around your skin like a velvet cloak.

 And sometimes it’s good to be reminded of our connections to others,
our connections to the saints who’ve gone before us,
those who have been the church in other times, other places.
The very structure of this small service reminding us of six decades of
a particular style of ecumenical worship,
originating in the Burgundian countryside of France.
And the embroidered IHS on the gold table drape, a christogram —
a monogram of sorts —
the first three letters of the name of Jesus in Greek,
an inscription that has been in use since the second century.

There is something about this quiet, musical worship that touches deep places in  me,
and in my husband, too.
It’s the closest I come to singing in a choir,
something I did for nearly fifty years of my life,
before I moved to Santa Barbara and joined a community without one.

And it’s also the closest I come to ‘singing in the Spirit,’
something I have so learned to love since my connection
with the Charismatic Catholics who trained me in the principles of spiritual direction
over the last few years.

 The choruses are simple, short, often in a minor key and very, very repetitive.
But this is a very different kind of repetition from the never-ending
rendition after rendition of many contemporary praise choruses.
It is soothing.
It is prayer.
That’s EXACTLY what it is — it is prayer.   

So I will put the words to the songs we sang last night here, one after another.
At your leisure, read them through.
Pause every once in a while, and read a line again.
And again.
See if maybe, just maybe, you might experience a small epiphany as you do.

Surely God is in this place, Holy ground. 

Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.  

O Lord, hear my prayer.
O Lord, hear my prayer:
when I call, answer me.
O Lord, hear  my prayer.
O Lord, hear my prayer:
come and listen to me. 

Our eyes are turned to Jesus Christ, our salvation.
Our eyes are turned to Jesus Christ, Lord of all creation.* 

Lord God, heal me, heal me, O my Lord,
that I might fulfull all your plans for me. 

Call: Christ the Lord, you became poor and you offer the kingdom of heaven
to the poor of the earth; you fill us with your riches.
Refrain: Come, Lord Jesus, come.
Call: O Lord, gentle and humble of heart, you reveal a new world
to all who abandon themselves; 
we receive of your fullness.
Refrain: Come, Lord Jesus, come.
Call: O Lord, you fell prostrate on the ground,
and you show us a path of consolation in our distress;
you are the joy no one can take from us.
Refrain: Come, Lord Jesus, come.
Call: O Lord, you shed your blood, and you give the cup of life
to seekers after justice; 
you quench every thirst.
Refrain: Come, Lord Jesus, come.
Call: O Lord, you showed yourself to the disciples and you pluck from our flesh
our hearts of stone; 
we shall see you face to face.
Refrain: Come, Lord Jesus, come.
O Lord, you divest the powerful and cloth peacemakers in festal robes;
you transform us into your likeness.
Refrain: Come, Lord Jesus, come.
O Lord, first of the living, you welcome into the kingdom of heaven
all who die for you; we dwell in your love.
Refrain: Come, Lord Jesus, come. 

Darkness is never darkness in your sight.
The deepest night is clear as the daylight.*

The kingdom of God is justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Come, Lord, and open in us the gates of your kingdom.  

Let your servant now go in peace, O Lord,
now go in peace according to your word.

*These two lovely sung prayers were written for us by our
Worship Director, Robert Gross.
Accompanying him last evening were Jon Lemmond on piano
and Anne Anderson on oboe.
This service includes a triple reading of the morning sermon text for reflection,
a corporate confession of sin,
the Lord’s Prayer,
an opportunity to light a candle and set it into a dish of sand
alongside the candles of those worshipping with you,
and a concluding prayer, read in unison.

And that is all.
And it is exactly enough.

I am still learning the formatting ins and outs of WordPress, so this is a day late. But I am joining with Michelle, Ann, Jennifer and Laura for their Monday/Tuesday communities:

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. “To go home by another way …”

    Yes, I know a Way. I want to follow it.

    Thank you, Diana. Just beautiful, as always.

  2. Love the minor key verses. The church I’ve attended for many years sings hymns and contemporary songs but not the chanting call and response, minor key singing. To hear those, (although sung in Latin, I put on my CDs and light candles in my cabin.

    • I love CDs for that purpose – and I just love being ‘sung over’ by a cantor. That’s one of the reasons I love these monthly worship services, I think. And what is about candles and this kind of music? They make a really rich combo, don’t they? Thanks for reading, Connie.

  3. I always love coming here, Diana. It’s as though I can “hear” your voice speaking. Yes, Lord Jesus, come.

    Please send me an email when you have a chance? I went to write you over the holidays to get your address +fill you in on life but I couldn’t get your email in my new address book to come up (new computer woes – I’m still so technology challenged – identified with your learning curve on WordPress! 🙂

    Much love Caro xo

    • Oh, how nice to see you here, Caro!! I’ll try sending you an email, but I may not have your current address. This is mine: dtrautwein at gmail dot com.

  4. ps. I’m now at carolyn@pressingsave.com Don’t use the old Westmont one any more. Thanks!

  5. This: “…this one feels like an out-of-control freight train already.” yes. I feel that. Your Taize service looks just the prescription for the ills, Diana. Sounds perfect–lovely. Oh, how I have come to love the seasons of the church. But I think I like this idea even more–stretching them into ordinary time. Praying for Epiphany here. Love to you.

    • It did help. For a couple of hours at least. Still feels like a runaway year to me, but I’m hoping that will dissipate over time. Thanks for stopping by, Laura – and love right back to you.

  6. “Our eyes are turned to Jesus Christ …” such a safe place to be.

    Fondly,
    Glenda

  7. That was beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing.

  8. At my church, there was a big emphasis on the “going home another way.” I found that particularly meaningful for such at time as this.

    • Yeah, I hear you on that one. I’ve always loved James Taylor’s song by that title and have used it in Sunday school settings for years. I think it’s a key element of the whole story, actually. Thanks for coming by, Megan.

  9. These words in particular spoke to my heart: “O Lord, gentle and humble of heart, you reveal a new world
    to all who abandon themselves; we receive of your fullness.” So much food for thought in just 22 words. 1) The King of Kings is gentle and humble. What a dichotomy. 2) He longs to share the new world of His kingdom with us, but reserves it for those who will abandon themselves. Why are we so reluctant? Nothing to lose; so much to gain. 3) When we do abandon the empty shell of “self”, we receive the unfathomable fullness of His love and grace. I’m overwhelmed! Thank you, Diane, for the epiphany!

    • So glad they did, Nancy. Every time I worship in a Taize service, one or two songs speaks particularly to me. I’m glad you found one today.

  10. This just quieted me right where I sit at my kitchen table. The tree is lit behind me. The wise men still kneel in the manger. I’m not sure when I’ll put Christmas away.

    I love your new home. I’m not sure I’ve told you that.

  11. This is lovely, Diana. And sadly, it reminds me how long it’s been since I attended a Taize service. Last year I resolved to find one in Nashville and did find a few options but never got around to going. I love the contemplativeness of those services and how much they fill my spirit, as you have illustrated well in this post.

    • Somehow your comment got locked into ‘to be approved’ hell – hopefully, I have now released it. Thanks for coming by, Leigh – and find yourself another place to experience Taize as we move toward Lent. It is such a rich and quieting worship space.

  12. No, you did not just quote James Taylor! Epiphany and James Taylor. All is right with the world. (Please forgive my exaggeration.)

    Diana, today I was telling my friend Kashoan about you. You will meet her in April. As I talked about you — it was just a brief bit of conversation — I felt myself getting all emotional. You have had a great impact on my life. I don’t know if you realize it. And I wanted you to know. Being married to a pastor is not the same thing as having a pastor, and I don’t want to put too much on your shoulders than you care to bear, but when I stop by here, I feel “pastored” in very significant ways. Thank you for your ministry among us.

    • Yes, I did indeed quote James Taylor, a favorite of mine and that is a song I have used in Advent classes for years and years – it’s perfect. Thank you so much for these too-kind words, dear Deidra. The feeling is entirely mutual, you know. I love what is happening out here and thank God for the contacts I’ve made every day. You are at the tippy top of that list.

  13. Hi Diana,

    I love that your church has this service… how beautiful. Ours doesn’t, so I’m always relying on my SD friends to teach me or take me to “new” ways of responding in worship. Thanks for the visual. Yes, there is something about candles and the Taize music that invites the Spirit. Peace to you in the busyness.

    • I love that we do this service, too. And the leading force behind it? Three recent college grads – they plan it and work with our worship director to lay out each service. We just began these in the fall and though we don’t have a huge crowd – usually around 30 – people from outside our worshipping community are showing up. Who knew worship could be outreach???

  14. I don’t yet have time to read through all of the words of the Taize service, but I will definitely be back in a few hours to do so!
    I just had to let you know that I laughed when I read ‘head for home quietly, so that neither suspicion nor attention is roused.’ That sounds so much like something mothers with young children do frequently! Although I would have to use the phrase ‘sneak off as quietly and insignificantly as possible to the bedroom/bathroom/back porch’ instead of ‘head for home quietly’. Although their ‘mummy is sitting down somewhere On Her Own!’ radar usually goes off within approximately 30sec of me getting to where I wanted to, and they track me down so they can fight near me.
    LOL!

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