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: