"For us in this time that has been pandemic, God has turned on a light," says Bishop Hughes. "We've been learning something about what the church could be. We've been learning something about who we are called to be as faithful people." (Time: 4:48.)
This is Bishop Hughes in the Diocese of Newark. Christmastide comes to an end today, and we end our celebration of Christmas like good Episcopalians with another celebration. It is the feast of the Epiphany, that feast where we think about the light, about what has appeared in the light, what has been revealed to us, what we have come to know in the light.
Often when we think of the Feast of the Epiphany we think of the magi who were guided by the light to Jesus. I want to expand that and think also about the people who were guided by the light of information. Mary and Joseph, Elizabeth, John the Baptist – all with a light of information given to them by God, having them live their life in a way that took them completely by surprise, moving courageously into that knowledge. I think about the shepherds in the field with the knowledge that the angels gave them, moving courageously beyond that field. They must have been scared to go but they went anyway, moving anyway into that light.
The thing that strikes me about Epiphany and Epiphany light is that it takes courage to walk in that light. It's very different from walking into a dark room and flipping up on a switch and we think, "Oh, I can see everything now, I know exactly where to go." When God flips the switch, when God brings light to us, usually God has so drastically changed everything we know that it feels shaken up or turned around or completely different. As our Presiding Bishop says so often, "or it has become right side up in a world where everything has been upside down."
It takes courage to walk into that light. And I want to encourage you to live fully into your heart and live fully into courage. That's where courage comes from – it comes from the heart. I want to encourage you to walk into that light and to do so bravely, to do so boldly, because for us in this time that has been pandemic, God has turned on a light. We've been learning something about what the church could be. We've been learning something about who we are called to be as faithful people. And now as we stand just at the beginnings of things beginning to shift and seeing an end to pandemic being a real possibility, I understand the desire to go running back to the church that we were before. And my hope and my energy and my focus is going to be on being the church that God is calling us to be next. I want to walk in that light.
I'm hoping that many of you will find that same courage and will walk in that light also. We'll do it together like we've done so much of this together. I want to invite you to sign up for our January learning event that will be replacing what would have been Convention. We're going to spend our time talking about different ways of being church. How we get more connected to each other and get deeper in our faith and how that impacts us beyond the church. We're going to spend more and more time over the coming months organizing ourselves in such a way that we're ready to be the church that God is calling us to be. Like the magi we're looking for that thing that God is calling us to be next. And I'm pretty convinced that part of walking in that light means that we are being a light to other people.
So have courage, my friends. We will not be in pandemic forever. And the church has something wonderful in store, but it means going into who we're called, not returning to what we were before. That may take courage, but the light is before us and God is guiding us every step of the way.