Thursday, January 05, 2006

retrospect and prospect: Reign of Christ and Epiphany

Just before Advent, the start of the new church year (in the Revised Common Lectionary this is Year B, Mark's Year) began, we celebrated Reign of Christ or Christ the King, the last Sunday in the liturgical year; tomorrow it'll be Epiphany, the liturgical festival of light noteworthy as remembrance of the Christ's first revelation to "the nations"—all of the gentile or non-Jewish world beyond Jerusalem's immediate boundaries and confines! Some cultures make January 6 their time of gifting, consequently styling the feast "Little Christmas"; as the Church and the churches move toward Lent's relative sobriety, the liturgical year and its accompanying lections begin counting and numbering Sundays after Epiphany.

To know and to acknowledge Christ Jesus as Lord of all – Pantocratur and Cosmocratur – we don't need to gaze retrospectively, but sometimes looking backward helps anyway, because we humans often have at least some trepidation about looking forward! And, of course, in order to see anything whatsoever, one needs sufficient light, enough luminescence.

At the moment I'm - almost - taking a vacation from doing theology, though within the past week I've acquired a whole half-dozen new books, which (maybe) I'll list on this far by faith some time over the coming weekend. For this Epiphany Eve, I'll close this blog with Marty Haugen's version of the Service of Light that opens evening prayer or vespers:
Joyous light of heavenly glory, loving glow of God's own face,
you who sing creation's story, shine on every land and race.
Now as evening falls around us, we shall raise our songs to you,
God of daybreak, God of shadows, come and light our hearts anew.

In the stars that grace the darkness, in the blazing sun of dawn,
of the light of peace and wisdom, we can hear your quiet song.
Love that fills the night with wonder, love that warms the weary soul,
Love that bursts all chains asunder, set us free and make us whole.

You who made the heaven's splendor, every dancing star of night,
make us shine with gentle justice, let us each reflect your light.
Mighty God of all creation, gentle Christ who lights our way,
Loving Spirit of salvation, lead us on to endless day.

©1990 GIA Publications, Inc.

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