Years ago, as the convener of the local ecumenical/interfaith clergy group, it was my responsibility to welcome newcomers to our area. We were a relatively diverse group, with clergy or representatives across the spectrum, including: Roman Catholics, Jews, Evangelicals, and Mormons. Our conversations, which often focused on local issues, were more collaborative and rarely — if ever — doctrinal. It was this approach that sparked a transformational conversation for me with one of our newer clergy.
It went something like this: “Brian, I really appreciate the welcome and hospitality extended to me by the clergy group. In fact, I have never been a part of such a theologically diverse group. I do, however, have one question that perplexes me: Why do Christians speak so little about Jesus? Are they afraid they are going to offend those of us from other faith traditions? I would certainly hope that is not the case; isn’t Jesus central to who you are?” Thus began a long and mutually supportive relationship.
The traditional definition of Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as the Christ to the Gentiles. The three primary biblical Epiphany expressions are: the visit by the Magi to baby Jesus, Jesus’ baptism in the river Jordan, and Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine at a wedding in Cana. Yet ever since that visit by the Magi, countless Epiphanies of Jesus have taken place.
Along the way, one of two things happen to many followers of Jesus. One: in an attempt to refrain from offending our sisters and brothers of other faith traditions, some avoid referring to Jesus when speaking of their faith journeys. Or two: some begin to speak about Jesus in ways to which the quieter, more moderate followers cannot relate. (This is described pronouncedly in a book titled Stealing Jesus.)
Time and time again I have been encouraged to let go of my fear that I will offend others by following Jesus. Likewise, the Jesus I know in scripture and in my life is manifested in an infinite number of ways. I should not permit others or myself to limit the way Jesus is made known. In fact, in our Baptismal Covenant, we commit with God’s help to diligently “seek” Epiphanies of Jesus in ourselves and in others.
May you have a blessed Epiphany season truly filled with Jesus being made known to you — and through you.
1 thought on “Jesus Made Known”
Jesus is pretty radically inclusive! Is He really saying, “My way or that wide highway” when he says, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me”? Is it really that “through me” really just means, “I have loved all of you already and you are all included in the Kingdom…so come, live into your acceptance, do not believe that I have not called you. I have called you for inclusive embracing. You are welcomed and already known in this Kingdom of God.”
Tillich wrote, “urge them to accept their acceptance.” This sort of thinking is rather Emergent Soteriology. As our bishop is your preference to explore more emergent paradigms for our ECiM Kingdom life together? I cannot get a read on where we are going together as a diocese? What paradigm is the Missional Strategy Network embracing and teaching? What benchmarks have been made in the 4 goals? Help…I need an epiphany on MSN. Especially on the “sharing of resources.” Could ECiM partner locally with the secular Good Deeds Society’s Minneapolis Meet-up Message board to get local projects accomplished through volunteers: gardening, painting, monthly cleaning, answering phones at the diocese… THROUGH radical inclusion of many other willing hands in the Kingdom?
A “State of the ECiM Diocese” January address to the people might help me know where we are headed besides to Kenya with seeds and scholarships. Do you think that missional churches like Gethsemane Episcopal, who feed people each week, who are hopeful to add a partnership soup kitchen mission to their already active Food Shelf and vegetable Garden should still be participating in this year’s international event for the “odd year” when there is not enough money right now at Gethsemane to support both an upstart local soup kitchen and send international seeds?