It’s hard to believe that I’ve only been in Philadelphia for one month now! I’ve already learned so much in this short period of time, and I am feeling more acclimated by the day. Thanks for all you’re doing to help me get settled and oriented!
As I’ve greeted you in the receiving line after liturgy each week, I’m grateful that so many of you have shared your names with me, as well snippets of your stories. Please know that I’ve been working diligently to remember all of your names, but I must admit that I’m still struggling a bit. There’s a lot of information to digest in that brief span of time after worship each Sunday! And while you are most certainly a deeply memorable people, I’m also a very visually-oriented learner. I often need to see names in order to remember them. So, I’d like to invite you to help me out in the name-learning department. When you have moment, would you please send me a brief email introducing yourself and the members of your household? I’d welcome you to share a bit about who you are and to also include a recent photograph. I’m at [email protected]. Thanks in advance for being willing to accommodate my learning style and for allowing me to begin to get to know you!
And while this request of mine might seem solely practical, I’d like to think that it’s also a bit theological. The feast of Epiphany (also known as Three Kings Day) takes place on January 6 and initiates the season of Epiphany, which lasts until Lent. This season is all about recognizing who Jesus really is. Indeed, the gifts brought by the Three Kings help us begin to recognize Jesus’ true identity. Gold is a gift fit for a king, frankincense a gift to be burned in offering to God, and myrrh a gift of perfume used to anoint the dead. And Jesus most certainly turned out to be an unconventional sort of kingly leader, an unexpected incarnation of God’s presence, and a human being who would die in the prime of his life because of his allegiance to border-crossing love.
As we enter into this Epiphany season, then, I pray that it would be for us not only a season of coming to understand more about who Jesus really is, but also of recognizing who those around us really are – God’s beloved children with unique and important stories to share. Christian community is a place to know and be known as we truly are. I am grateful for the ways in which you’re already sharing yourselves with me, and I would love to be able to continue to do that mutual sharing on a first-name basis. I look forward to receiving your introduction and your photograph, as well as to greeting you by name very soon.
With the Epiphany star lighting the way,