The Epiphany Cycle

18 Jun

Kathryn Hauser’s Special Reflection for Epiphany Friday, 06 Jan 2012

The Epiphany Cycle

A couple of weeks ago my spiritual director shared with me the concept of the Epiphany Cycle.[1]  It is the same process that the magi went through.  These questions are addressed along the journey as Marianne Hieb lays them out.  She asks, Are you:

  1. waiting in darkness?
  2. scanning the night sky?
  3. identifying a light that appears bright enough to follow?
  4. setting out on the journey?
  5. following the star?
  6. identifying the gift?
  7. entering a new place and finding the Promised One?
  8. offering the gift? or
  9. returning home by another route?

I thought I’d share my own Epiphany journey with you to put flesh on the concept of the cycle.  Four years ago on Epiphany, 06 January 2008 God called me.  My life was one of waiting in darkness (1).  I had gone through months of the grieving and the forgiveness process after getting fired on my birthday the previous May (2007).  I was in a space of openness when I said, “Here I am Lord, send me.  How can I serve You?”  I scanned the spiritual night sky (2) of my soul and with God’s help started learning, to my amazement, that the performance anxiety that I thought was normal to my life before my calling was being replaced by an anchoredness and peace which showed in stark contrast to what I had known before.  The more I explored this new kingdom, the more the light contrasted it.  I wrote it out to express my soul.  This light was bright enough for me to follow (3).  I set out on the journey (4), still writing as always, but now God focused my attention on incorporating scriptures into what I was writing, making the Word more alive to me than it ever had been before.  I kept following the star (5) and learning to finely tune my internal discernment ears.  As I prayed and wrote a shift took place within me as I started to see my writing as a gift (6).  Up until that point I enjoyed writing but didn’t see it necessarily as a gift to use to share the journey.  Now writing wasn’t just recreation but a passion.  I entered a new place and found my Promised One (7) waiting with a smile.  There was purpose and definition shaping within me as I wrote and “saw” how God has been fulfilling His promises.  As I shared the journey, I was offering the gift beyond myself (8).  Sometimes that meant confronting sin in the Churches.  Other times it meant revealing how God has already fulfilled prophecy.  Other times it meant sharing from my own lifeforce and my own mistakes and internal processes.  There were times when the writing was like gold.  Its wealth of meaning and substance enriched everyone for the greater good.  There were times when the writing was sweet and aromatic like frankincense and myrrh, and other times where it was medicinal.  And still other times when it was sacrificial.  The Spirit lingered in the air on the words and wafted around everyone giving us all new perspectives.

As I have been contemplating the last point in the Epiphany Cycle, returning home by another route (9), I know that my writing is just the instrument.  I will still take it with me as I return “home,” because it is part of who I am.  So, for awhile I was confused.  How could I leave my gift with the Promised One and still take it with me?  I asked God and He said kindly, “I am the Word.”  I thought of God’s breathing Word and looked back at the word Epiphany:

Renewal

An EPIPHANY enables you to sense creation not as something completed, but as constantly becoming, evolving, ascending.  This transports you from a place where there is nothing new to a place where there is nothing old, where everything renews itself, where heaven and earth rejoice as at the moment of creation.[2]

I asked God, “What are You trying to create in this new cycle?”  He answered, “A whole Church.  Each Church is given a gift that is meant to be shared with the whole and not just sat upon in survival mode.”  After God said that, I realized that we truly (the Churches and I) cannot go home by the same route we came, but must return home by another route.  In order to reach God’s vision for us as a whole Church, we must reconcile.  I have tried and still have not heard a word.  Last month I shared the contact roster of the shepherds I have tried to engage along the journey.  I haven’t been asking for much, just to know that what I write is being read and “heard.”  What I write is REAL.  It’s not fiction.  It is just as REAL as heaven.  It is as REAL as the resurrection.  Life is REAL.  Choices are REAL.  God is REAL.  The “angels” (aka pastors) of the ‘Seven Churches’ are REAL.  As Paul F Knitter said,

“God” must be an experience before “God” can be a word.[3]

All God said when He called me on Epiphany 2008 was to give me two directives: “worship God” and “share the journey.”  I’ve done that and in the meantime most of the prophecies up to Revelation 21 have been fulfilled in one layer of meaning or another.  Just the “books” haven’t been opened (Rev 20:12) on this portion of the timeline as they have been in various other cycles on the timeline in the past. There are too many fig leaves covering up the shame that the Churches are carrying.  And it doesn’t have to be there.  Yes, the Churches did the Great Oops.  The sin has been confronted and forgiven.  But we can’t reconcile if nobody’s talking.  With all the pervasive silence Satan is having a field day, just like God said would happen in Rev 12.  He sealed it in Rev 8.  And the Seventh Seal was silence:

Rev 8:1 When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

Now the Seventh Trumpet has been sounded.  It is supposed to be a time of thanksgiving (Rev 11:17).  How can the people hear the thanksgiving praise if what I write is not read or shared?  Or maybe it is and no one is saying anything.  I have no publisher, so where’s my community?  As a prophet I can “see” but I’m not clairvoyant.  I cannot see through silence.  I can often “see” the spiritual big picture stuff (but not political stuff—other prophets “see” that.)  Often I can “see” how things have the potential to connect together.  (But stay away from Potential.  That’s a scary character!)  I can “see” dynamics at work, and I can snorkel through spiritual waters.  But, I am not clairvoyant.  I “hear” the spiritual realm—so to say—but I don’t hear the dead, just the living.  I have no way of knowing what others know.  Pastors know more than the average bear, but they’re still in hibernation.  In order for the Churches to heal and become whole, we must find a common Word, a common language, so that all gifts may be honored rather than putting conditions on the gift.  The Holy Family did not put conditions on the gifts that the Magi shared with them, so neither is it right for today’s holy family of the Churches to put conditions on their gifts which God is wanting everyone to share.  I sense the reason the Churches have been putting conditions on their gifts is that they have been assuming Christ will be coming back to rescue us from our survival mode.  But He has told us to be His witnesses everywhere, and to “love on” people to the ends of the earth. (ref Acts 1:8)  Church please start thinking in that context.  Right now the world doesn’t know she is loved (or maybe she knows better than the Church), but we won’t know until we talk about it and share the journey with each other.  This is the Aha!-Epiphany for the Church in this cycle:

Christ will come back in Person when the whole world knows of His love for everyone.

 

Epiphany of the Lord          Friday, 06 Jan 2012                         Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12

Isaiah 60:1-6
60:1 Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.

60:2 For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.

60:3 Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

60:4 Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.

60:5 Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you.

60:6 A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.

Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14
72:1 Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son.

72:2 May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice.

72:3 May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness.

72:4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.

72:5 May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.

72:6 May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth.

72:7 In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more.

72:10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts.

72:11 May all kings fall down before him, all nations give him service.

72:12 For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper.

72:13 He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.

72:14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.

Ephesians 3:1-12
3:1 This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles–

3:2 for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you,

3:3 and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words,

3:4 a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ.

3:5 In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:

3:6 that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

3:7 Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power.

3:8 Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ,

3:9 and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things;

3:10 so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

3:11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,

3:12 in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.

Matthew 2:1-12
2:1 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,

2:2 asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”

2:3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him;

2:4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.

2:5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

2:6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'”

2:7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared.

2:8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”

2:9 When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.

2:10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.

2:11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

2:12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

 


[1] Marianne Hieb, RSM.  The Epiphany Cycle: The Spiritual Journey As a Creative Process; Presence: An International Journal of Spiritual Direction. (No date listed on my copy of the copy of the article.)

[2] Matt, Daniel C, The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism, (NY: Quality Paperback Book Club, a division of HarperCollins Publ., 1995; p 99)

[3] Knitter, Paul, F.  Without Buddha I Could Not Be a Christian; (NY: Oneworld Publications, 2009; p 15)

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