Today's the day that the church commemorates the visit of the Wise Men to the baby Jesus. It's a complicated, confusing story and I have never understood what the "epiphany" is exactly. But I do have an Epiphany story:
A few years ago, I was teaching Sunday School, the kindergarten class, and on the first Sunday in January, only one little boy showed up. I was kind of cranky anyway, what with the post-Christmas blahs and so on, and I just plowed ahead with the lesson about the three wise men. At some point in the lesson I got out the Bible and read the story aloud--it's only a few verses long. The little boy was listening, and towards the end of the story, he interrupted with a question. A big question. "Do you mean," he said, "that God is REAL?"
Now, that is an epiphany. I don't know what it was about the story of the wise men that prompted the synapses of his six-year-old brain to put that thought together. But somehow, it was the power of the scripture, I can't take any credit at all. I don't know where he went from there, either, but I think once you have had that thought, you can never really go back. I know I can't.
The story of the Magi, and for that matter, the whole Christmas story, depends greatly on people's receiving messages from God through angels and dreams. And this year, on the eve of Epiphany, I had a relevant dream, the kind you could easily say was a message from God.
Last night, I dreamed that the pastor of my church presented me with a bill, for a whole list of things that I had promised to pay for and the church had spent money for on the strength of my pledge. In the dream, I remembered doing it, it was a legitimate bill. The emotional content of the dream was gratitude, I was so grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to pay what I owed. I did start to reach for my credit card, though, and he said, no, you need to write a check. In this "real world," of course, what I owe to the church can't be settled with a financial donation. They need me to be there and participate in the program. So, even though it was cold* and I was depressed and grumpy, I got dressed and rode my bike to the early service today. And I feel better for it.
God is great.
*okay, it's relatively cold, in a South Florida sort of way: I wore a turtleneck and a sweater--it's about 55 degrees.