EPIPHANY: WELCOMING THE STRANGER, WHO REVEALS CHRIST TO US

 

“Often goes the Christ in the stranger’s guise,” claims an old Celtic saying.* -And most of us know that to be true. We know that on some days, Christ comes to us in surprising forms: strangers on the street, people we’ve just met, or even grouchy coworkers can suddenly give us insight, or show the grace of God.

 

On January 6, we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, when strangers were the ones to recognize Jesus as the manifestation (Epiphany means “manifestation”) of God: we remember the Magi, those wise ones who travelled from the Far East, following a star, to find one who would be a ruler for his people.** The Magi were foreigners—not exactly immigrants, since they only intended a visit . . . but who knows whether they made it home again! These Gentiles (non-Jews) brought their gifts and worship to the child Jesus. So, for the church, they represent the early recognition that Jesus brought good news not just for his own Jewish people, but for all the world.

 

It’s funny, isn’t it? The strangers—the Magi—were the ones who welcomed Jesus. And by welcoming the strangers, Jesus’ family learned something wonderful about their own child. Maybe this is partly why there is a tradition, in the church, of blessing houses at Epiphany. We want to welcome Christ in the way the Magi did, and we want to welcome any visitors who may show us the presence of Christ. Like the Magi, these visitors may be unexpected. In order to receive the blessing they may bring us, we need to cultivate hearts and doors that are open, starting at home.

 

Whether you live in a small room, or an apartment, or a house, you are invited to try a house blessing this Epiphany! Do it yourself, using the words below, and a piece of chalk provided at the church; or invite one of the pastors to come visit and bless your home with you. We love to do that!

 

It’s such a blessing to have shelter; let’s each take a few moments in this season to be grateful for it. How will we share that blessing during the coming year? Will Christ, in the disguise of the stranger, be welcome in our homes?

 

Love,
Pastor Julie

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