Happy New Year
A Reflection by the Rev. Doyt L. Conn Jr.
Happy New Year! May the grace of God, known through our knowledge of the Kingdom of God, be alive in your life this coming year. We are a people made for new creation. That is what Jesus came to teach us, and more than that give his life for on our behalf. This second concept is hard to get our minds around. It is rooted in the fact that we live in a reality that is bigger than our cognitive capacity. The reality of the mystery, or shall I say transcendence, that we live in was something seen and known with perfect clarity by Jesus. Armed with this knowledge, some of which was exposed through the words of the Old Testament, Jesus took upon himself the loving vocation of eradicating our sins. If there was a formula through which to understand what he did, it would come in the pattern of:
• sin, the elevation of an element of the creation above the Creator,
• which causes us to be exiled, out of sync with the rhythms of the natural order,
• but which is met with forgiveness, made available to us by Jesus, who facilitates our return to life in the Kingdom of God.
We know how forgiveness of sin works in our own lives. But for Jesus forgiveness of sin was a cosmic drama. Buried within the Old Testament’s prophetic tradition was the idea that one person would assume the sins of the world. This was not as a sacrifice to an angry god, but a loving vocation on behalf of sinful humanity. Then, in a cosmic battle with evil forces that person would defeat the idols that drew humanity’s attention away from God. These are idols that sucked the life out of us, idols that the Apostle Paul called our death. Jesus came that we might have life: abundantly and eternally. That was the vocation of Jesus, chosen and then achieved, for you and me.
The cross is the means by which this all happened. “The problem solved by Jesus is that humans were made for a particular vocation, which they rejected; this rejection involves a turning away from the living God to worship idols; this results in giving idols – that is ‘forces’ within creation – a power over humans and the world that was rightfully that of genuine humans; and this lead to a slavery which is ultimately the rule of death itself, the corruption and destruction of the good world made by God.” That is how N.T. Wright says it in his book The Day the Revolution Began (p. 86).
With that in mind I invite you to consider two things as the New Year begins. First, consider the ‘forces’ to which you give away your power. What enslaves you? What is killing you? What battles are you perpetually fighting to stem the tide of corruption or destruction? And within the realm of ‘forces’ wonder about the places you give your rest away to as well. Is it running away to a fancy place? Or turning off your mind in front of the TV? Or having a stiff drink or two? Within the realm of ‘forces’ also wonder if some deep angst (maybe over a political situation or life choices made by family or friends) might also be tearing at your soul. I invite you to wonder as the New Year begins, about those things that suck the life out of you.
Then, consider Jesus. Consider what you know about him. Ask yourself if the love he is known for might be a balm to your soul. Wonder what it would be like to be liberated from the powers and principalities that bind you into a life of ease, energy, and endurance. These words, ease, energy, and endurance, are the watchwords of calling, of vocation. That is not to say your vocation won’t be hard work at times. It most certainly will be. But the vocation of your life will be infused with joy, done with ease, energy, and endurance when it is done in consideration of Jesus.
The forgiveness of sins is our entry into this way of being. Jesus has already defeated cosmically the idols that seek to suck away our power. The victory is won. We are saved from powers and principalities that were once stronger than we are. We are lifted up. So be lifted up this New Year. Seek the higher plane, the transcendent life. You are a new creation.
Peace be upon your soul.
See and hear the story of Christmas presented by our children in the Church. Join us Christmas Eve at 4 pm in the Church.
The Celebration of the 110th Anniversary of the Founding of Epiphany Parish
Please join us on Friday, January 6th, at 7.30 pm for a Festival Eucharist as we celebrate together the Feast of the Epiphany. This year we also mark the 110th anniversary of Epiphany Parish! There will be a reception afterward: please RSVP to the church office (email@example.com) if you can provide one or more of the following items:
20 bottles of sparkling juice
15 bottles of wine
12 desserts (should feed about 12)
10 fruit platters
2 people to help set up
2 people to help clean up
January 8 at 6 pm, the Epiphany celebration continues with an organ recital celebrating the 20th anniversary of the installation of the Noack organ in the Church. Joseph Adam, the Principal Organist and Associate Director of Music at the Cathedral of Saint James Seattle, will perform major organ repertoire with Epiphany themes. He is also the Resident Organist for the Seattle Symphony and faculty member at the University of Puget Sound, and he has performed worldwide.
YWCA Families Thank You!
Thank you for supporting YWCA shelter families for Christmas again this year. We adopted 30 families, and contributed many, many single presents and gift cards. You brought joy to many families!
Madrona’s Winter Playfair & Potluck
Save the Jan 14 date (anytime between 4:00-7:00pm) for Madrona’s Winter Playfair and Potluck at Epiphany’s Great Hall. Featuring fun for all ages in a wide range of activities: Twister, Legos (bring to use if you have them), puzzles, decorations for Valentine’s Day, face painting, Pokeman Play and Trade, poetry slam, learn to knit, exchange books and magazines, and much more. Email Barbara Parker with additional suggestions.