Epiphany, Jan. 6, 2016

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Title:Epiphany, Jan. 6, 2016

  Epiphany, January 6, 2016  (full size gallery)

A full Epiphany at St. Peter’s with 3 events – Bible Study at 10am, Village Dinner 5pm to 6:30pm and then the Epiphany service at 7pm. Thanks to Barbara for the Bible Study pictures. 

Bible study concerned Epiphany 1 which is always about the baptism of Jesus, interpreted in all the Gospels except for John. The focus in Year C with the Gospel of Luke is less on Jesus, and more on how God’s people are invited to participate in the baptism and to receive God’s Spirit. Luke is unique in showing Jesus praying during the major events. 

Baptism was a practice that began before John, but was reinterpreted by John—no longer just a ritual cleansing, this was a symbol of one’s change of life, of changing orientation to God from this world. With Jesus, this becomes a symbol of orienting one’s life to The Way of Christ, a symbol of renewed life and the promise of eternal life. "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."

The weather continued cold though less so from earlier in the week. With the vibrant colors Epiphany comes to us as the season of light.  

The Village Dinner featured Tortillinis, salad and pie and ice cream. Due to the weather many opted for "take-out" Some of the main players of the dinner were not there but the subs did a great job. The  Tortillinis  recipe was Betty’s.

Each Epiphany service features a different set of lights. This year it was the window lights, small candles floating in water and with the added the lighted stars. The bulletin is here.

Elizabeth was the lector with a congregation of 16. The notable phrase is from Isaiah which is repeated twice.

"Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
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."  

The Gospel is from Matthew 2 the story of Herod and the Wise Men. While they seem to be under the influence of Herod in being ordered to find Jesus, they take an independent path home at the end – "another road". Epiphany is a time of both unexpected challenges but also real discoveries. For the Wise Men, the old way of traveling would no longer work. They needed to follow a different path and it changes the world.   

The main part of the sermon dealt with this phrase – "When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy." This is not just happiness but a joy, an ectasy that may come once in a life.

Catherine illustrated this phrase in the sermon with the  life of Gilbert Kaplan who recently died and whose obituary was covered in the Washington Post. Kaplan made millions on Wall Street in the 1960’s as publisher of Institutional Investor, which was not only a newsletter but included conference. 

The defining event in his life was in 1965 while he was on Wall Street. He accompanied a friend to New York City’s Carnegie Hall to hear a rehearsal of Mahler’s Second Symphony, the "Resurrection". Mr. Kaplan told the Boston Globe in 1989. “Zeus threw the bolt of lightning. I walked out of that hall a different person." Indeed he did follow a different road which involved learning the piece from a conductor, becoming an expert on Mahler who even corrected faulty older copies after reading the original score. Except for piano lessons as a child he had no musical background.

The culmination of this passion occurred in 1982 when he conducted the work. The work is 90 minutes with an orchestra of 100, a choir of 200 and two soloists. Leighton Kerner, classical music critic for the Village Voice declared the interpretation “one of the five or six most profoundly realized Mahler Seconds” in the previous 25 years.Even those attendees not schooled in music seemed to recognize that they had witnessed something remarkable."  

So too the Wisemen realized they had witnessed a once in a lifetime event. Poet Malcolm Guite wrote "I love the way they loved and followed a star, but didn’t stop at the star, but rather let the star lead them to something beyond itself. Surely that is a pattern for all wise contemplation of nature whether in art or science.".. "Here is an Epiphany, a revelation, that the birth of Christ is not  one small step for a local religion but a great leap for all mankind." 

You can see Bernstein conduct the Resurrection Symphony on Youtube.

During the offertory a men’s trio performed "We Three Kings."

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