The Epiphany of the Lord ~ "We have a God who Keeps on Appearing" ~ Susan McGurgan

Updated: Dec 29, 2021

As far back as he could remember, he had been searching for something. His parents called him their "perpetual motion machine." His teachers labeled him “restless” and his fiancé learned not to make permanent plans. Even at a party with his closest friends, his eyes would scan the crowd, looking for someone or something that always seemed to be just around the corner or down the hall. Business associates knew him as a live-wire--you know, always on the lookout for his next big chance; always searching for something new; always waiting for that one special contact to transform his life. As far back as he could remember, he had been searching for something...something he never quite found.


# # #


Thank goodness Christmas was just about over. She kicked a wad of wrapping paper under the couch, and straightened an ornament on the tree, sending a shower of dry pine needles to the floor. She wondered if the day after Christmas was too soon to box everything up and send Santa and his little elves back down to the basement. She wondered if Christmas had just become one giant infomercial, wrapped up in a big red bow. She glanced at the calendar. Great. The credit card statement would arrive any day. Ho Ho Ho.


She hadn’t always felt this way. In fact, until a few years ago, this season had been magical: a time for hope; a time to reach beyond herself; a time to believe in something, even when the world called it foolish. Now she wondered... was all the fuss worth it? She wished she could find her way back to the magic; the joy; the anticipation of something big and mysterious. She picked up a kneeling wise man, holding out his offering of gold. His gaudy robe was faded, and he and his camel were scarred from years of travel across her dining room buffet. Did these wise guys have ANY idea what they started with this gift-giving business?


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Sometimes, we can spend our entire lives searching—searching for the big merger, the perfect holiday, the ideal partner, the lost dreams of childhood, the newest trend, the shiniest toy, that one special contact to transform our lives forever. We all know people like that—their bodies are restless, their gaze always lands somewhere over our shoulder, their smiles never quite reach their eyes and holidays never meet expectations. Their hands may be full, but they still reach for more, hoping that THIS time, they get what they want.


The drive to search for something of value

can be distorted by our own weakness

and ambushed by our sins.

It can be misdirected by old wounds

or warped by new fears.

Yet, this desire to search,

to reach,

to journey--

is hard-wired into our souls.

We are like heat-seeking missiles,

searching for an encounter with the living God.


This season can help us find the way.

If we are open to their message,

the people of Epiphany can show us a Biblical model

of listening,

trusting,

hoping,

seeking.


They can teach us how to embrace the journey of faith fruitfully.


Mary listened--

and continued to listen,

even when what she heard

sounded impossible--

terrifying--

beyond human comprehension.

She listened even when what she heard

led her to stand at the foot of a cross.


Joseph trusted--

and continued to trust,

even when he had to launch himself off a cliff,

and trust that God would be there to break his fall.

He trusted,

even as he led his family into exile,

to become strangers in a strange land.


The shepherds hoped--

and continued to hope,

even when the world told them

their lives didn't matter

and their hope was a futile and cosmic joke.


The Magi searched--

and continued to search,

even when their journey took them

far from home

into the court of a dangerous and vindictive King.


Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the Magi...

these ancestors in faith remind us

that we have a God who just keeps on appearing.


Our God appeared to Thomas,

exiting tombs and walking through closed doors

to calm his doubt.


Our God appears at border crossings,

comforting exiles in the midst of their fear and suffering.

Our God appears in the laughter of holiday celebrations,

reminding us of our blessings.

Our God appears at the bedside of a dying man,

keeping vigil in the darkness.


Our God appears on days

when the heavenly messages seem to make no sense;

when the blessings appear dubious;

when trust,

and hope,

and the journey of faith

takes us directly into exile and danger.


We have a God who just keeps on appearing.


The people of Epiphany remind us

that God is always present and active in our lives,

and our rightful response to this ongoing encounter

is a stance of openness;

a sense of awe;

a heart for adventure;

a voice lifted in gratitude and praise.


If we are searching,

we will find God appearing in the midst of births and deaths;

joys and sorrows.

We will find our God in dreams,

our hopes,

our fears.

If we are searching,

we will find God appearing in the most unexpected places

announced by the most unlikely heralds.

If we are searching,

we will see His star at its rising,

in every direction,

at every latitude,

along each compass point.


We may never celebrate the “perfect” Christmas,

land the most important client,

acquire the shiniest toy

or satisfy our wildest dreams.

But this season of epiphanies teaches us

that we have something better--

we have a God who just keeps on appearing.



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