When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.
–Howard Thurman, “The Mood of Christmas”.
Christ has been born, presents unwrapped, all the cookies have been eaten, and life has gone back to “normal” with work, school, activities. Yet the good news of Christmas resounds in this season after Epiphany, a time where we get to witness the manifestation of God’s love through Jesus’ preaching and teaching, and to understand just how much God loves us by bringing Godself to walk amongst us humans. It is all about identification: Jesus is the messiah for all people.
I’m almost at the halfway mark of my time at Phinney Ridge as your Vicar. These first few months have been instrumental in establishing my own pastoral identity, finding my voice, shaping my work relationships and broadening my knowledge of Scandinavian and Norwegian heritage! Needless to say, it has been a whirlwind of adventures in Seattle, and many moments of learning things on the fly.
One of the things I have truly loved learning about is the people of Phinney Ridge. I have been going on lunches and dinners with any member who wants to take me out! I have been blessed with the opportunity to be invited into people’s homes, eating at their favorite places, hearing their stories, and really beginning to understand how each person’s identity is wrapped up in our relationship with God. God is truly at work amongst this community. What I love the most is the diversity of life journeys: no two persons have the same story, and hearing your story has been one of the greatest learning pieces for me. For it is in our diversity within community that the fullness of God’s love for us can be realized.
As we continue journeying with Jesus, we learn more and more about our own identities and who we are in the eyes of God. This message is as real today as it was during biblical times. For people today, the fullness of Epiphany is realized in the fullness of our relationships. For every person in whom Christ is born, there is a person who needs to hear a human neighbor affirm that this person’s life is good news, God with us, that it matters to the world. This year, as we enter into this season of revelation, let us not only take note of God among us, but also to affirm God’s activity in one another. Get to know your neighbor, cause I’m really loving getting to know you.
Vicar Elizabeth Peter