Epiphany and a Prayer Practice
Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you! Isaiah 60:1
Just like Christmastide is a season of twelve days, Epiphany is a season of the church year stretching from January 6 to the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. Three events in particular are associated with this season—the visit of the wise men from the east, the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River along with his temptation in the wilderness, and the turning of the water into wine. Reflecting on these events, launches us into a season of seeking manifestations of God’s presence in our ordinary lives as well.
Some people find themselves in an emotional slump after the intense waiting of Advent, which culminates with Christmas, and then is followed immediately by celebrations associated with the chronological New Year. This let-down is understandable given the adrenalin-pumping pace of the holidays. It can feel like everything we looked forward to is now behind us and all that lies ahead is cold weather (for some) and getting back to work.
This year, in particular, it’s hard to know what to feel. Most of us are grateful to have left 2020 behind but we are still in the midst of one of the most extraordinary seasons any of us have ever lived through—a pandemic season when there is hope on the horizon but still nothing is as it should be.
There is a Christian practice that can help us with this. It is called the examen of consciousness—that is, our consciousness of God with us as David models for us in Psalm 139:1-12. This prayer practice is so very simple because all we have to do is take a few minutes at the end of every day to review the events of that day asking God to show us evidence of the Divine Presence we might have missed. You may prefer to take a few minutes in the morning to look back on the previous 24 hours, but either way we are creating space for God to reveal evidence of his presence, his activity and his glory so we don’t miss anything.
As we reflect on every aspect of the day—waking, showering and dressing, eating, commuting, relating with others, difficulties and challenges at work, moments of pleasure and pain, consolation and desolation, decision-making, interacting with the news and needs of the world, concluding a day spent working at home or returning home, the evening spent with housemates or family, crawling into the comfort of our bed at night—we can ask God, “Reveal yourself to me. Show me where you were present, making the ordinary extraordinary. I don’t want to miss a thing.”
This is a prayer God loves to answer.
(based on the 1/6/2021 reflection of Ruth Haley Barton)