Contemporary Scripture Reflections for Spiritual Seekers
Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart, BCC, PCC
SUNDAY BIBLETALK
January 3rd, 2021
The Feast of the Epiphany
Perpetuum Mobile
Elizabeth-Anne Stewart

And so the Wisemen
have completed their journey yet again,
stiff from the saddle,
weary of desert storms,
bored of the incessant jangle
of camel harnesses
and of the predictable plod
of beasts of burden.
The dromedaries bend,
drop to their knees,
spitting and snorting
while travelers dismount
and disgruntled boys
unload coffers
brought from afar.
The star rests
in it customary place,
illuminating the night,
beckoning with brilliance
as magi carry kingly gifts
to the peasant child
whom they have found
on Epiphanies past.
Once over the threshold,
they, too, bend,
drop to the ground,
offering themselves
in silent adoration
to the One whose name
they read in the skies.
And when, light of heart,
they return East,
they know that new signs
will summon them once more,
that new routes and caravans
will lead them
through dark days
without end.

And so the Wisemen...







QUESTIONS
FOR REFLECTION

  • What is the star that beckons you on this Feast of the Epiphany?
  • What is the Great Light that you have seen or that you are seeking?
  • What epiphanies surfaced during 2020, or was the year entirely dark, without any redemptive moments?
  • What are your hopes for 2021 and how do they align with what you believe God desires for the world?
Here is the link to my re-telling of the Epiphany Story in an inter-faith gathering in 2018; I have included this in SBT before, but it does offer some light-hearted reflection on light, darkness, and consciousness. Enjoy!
New Year Greetings!

I write on the cusp of the New Year, hopeful that 2021 will bring a "re-creation" of the world and its inhabitants, that all the groaning and labor pains of 2020 will give birth to something new and wonderful. The reality, however, is that while midnight splits the years, severing one year from the next, it does not magically "mend" systemic problems. If racism and white supremacy existed in 2020, they will exist in 2021; if violence shattered global peace during the last 365 days, it is guaranteed to do the same in the year to come; if political shenanigans dominated the headlines, then they will continue to undermine democracy in the new year; if poverty, hunger, and homelessness afflicted the masses, then it is guaranteed that there will be still more desperation on our streets, especially because of the fallout from the pandemic...

Sadly, COVID-19 is not going to be a relic of 2020, despite promising vaccines; nor will "Karen" moments, or "George Floyd" moments, or violent confrontations between mask-wearers and anti-maskers disappear with the last seconds of 2020; nor will civil unrest, assaults on the environment, the mistreatment of migrants and callous indifference to human suffering be over and done with. Even as the countdown ends and church bells peal, the bloody scraps of last year's leavings will continue to haunt us, like festering wounds, from one hour to the next.

Given this grim prediction, where is the hope? For me, it lies in the Renaissance belief that each of us is a microcosm, an image of the universe in all its complexity and possibility. If I change, then the world can change. If I can give birth to a new self, then the world has a greater chance of being re-born. If I can commit to being part of the solution instead of the problem, then the world, by God's grace, can also solve its problems. If I align my will with the Divine Will, then the stars will be in alignment, the Earth will rotate on its axis in the right direction and all will be in harmony. Chaos will be no more and humankind will inherit the Garden once more. For now is the time of the Garden, the hour of holiness, the time to redeem from forgetfulness, the time of waiting in readiness...

Many Blessings for 2021!
Elizabeth

SCRIPTURE REFLECTION

And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.
MT 2:1-12

This beloved story from the Infancy Narratives speaks to us on many levels. Like the Magi, we are invited to leave our comfort zones and to venture into new territories -- not geographically, perhaps, but certainly in terms of what we think, what we assume, what we believe, what we take for granted. This is no easy journey, for it involves deconstructing everything we previously knew to arrive at an alternative reality. Just as the Magi traverse hostile deserts and barren places, so, we, too, have to face doubt, uncertainty, even fear. Sometimes, staring across the endless hot sands, we see a mirage, mistaking it for an oasis. Finding ourselves deceived, we start over, seeking again that which beckons us -- a star, a promise, a sense of hope, the answer to our prayers...

What is it that we seek? How do we know it exists? What are the signs that we will eventually arrive at our destination? And when we arrive, will the journey have been worth it? The Magi symbolize spiritual seekers. Their exotic robes suggest kingly status, noble enterprise -- they are no mere mortals plodding through life but pilgrims seeking spiritual fulfillment. For them, ordinary pursuits are too small, too superficial; they have had their fill of material pleasures, status, and wealth. Now, their quest takes them in search of ultimate meaning, of knowledge that transcends anything to be found in ancient manuscripts or prophetic riddles. They leave "home" because their sense of emptiness makes them feel like strangers in the universe; they will only be content when they can behold that Light that outshines any star. Then, they will fall to their knees, offering gifts from the old dispensation -- worldly gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh; in return, they will receive Light itself, illumination, and perfect clarity. They will see and be seen, leaving Bethlehem as enlightened beings, willing to carry radiance with them, wherever they go...

So may it be for us...


RESOURCES

Check out my Resiliency Assessment Tool on the home page of my new website: https://www.embracingpossibility.com

Try my Spiritual Self-Assessment Tool! After you take the Quiz, you will automatically receive a computer-generated analysis of your strengths and "growing edges." https://assess.coach/eastewart/

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SPIRITUAL DIRECTION AND LIFE COACHING BY PHONE OR ZOOM
This video explains my approach to this ministry, while my website provides further details as well. During COVID-19, sessions are by phone or on Zoom; I am also available to facilitate "virtual" retreats for groups and individuals.
Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart | www.elizabeth-annestewart.com | e.a.stewart@sbcglobal.net

C. All Photos by Elizabeth-Anne Stewart, www.artfulphotographer.com