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Reflections on the Logic of Epiphany season   
from the sermons of Dr. Robert Crouse

 From a sermon for the First Sunday after Epiphany:

We celebrate now the Epiphany of our Lord: his manifestation, his showing forth, or shining forth; the appearing of the new Sun of Righteousness, the light which shines in the darkness, the light which all this world's darkness can never overcome. "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (2 Corinthians 4.6) That is the theme of the Epiphany: the shining forth of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, who is "the power of God and the wisdom of God." (1 Corinthians 1.24). 

Many events in the Gospels are particularly associated with the Epiphany. First, of course, there is the coming of the star-led Magi, the wise men from the East, who bring their gifts of gold, and incense, and myrrh "sacred gifts of mystic meaning" acknowledging the infant as King, as God, and as sacrifice. Then there is the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, with the visible descent of the Spirit, and the declaration of his divine sonship. And on the Sundays after Epiphany the Gospel lessons are chiefly concerned with the miracles of Jesus, in which his divine power is manifest. 

But on this first Sunday after Epiphany, we have the story of Jesus' visit to the Temple at Jerusalem, at the age of twelve, and his conversation with the doctors, "both hearing them, and asking them questions." It's the only story the Gospels give us of the childhood of Jesus, and it is an interesting and remarkable story in many ways. But the chief point of it as the Gospel lesson for this Sunday, is the showing forth of divine wisdom. "He is the power of God and the wisdom of God", and his divine power will be shown in his miracles. But first, he is the wisdom of God, and that is what we are invited to consider today: Christ as the Epiphany of the wisdom of God...  

...In the series of Gospel lessons for the Epiphany Sundays, first comes the Epiphany of divine wisdom, then the Epiphany of divine power in the miracles. And that order is vitally important, for, as today's collect puts it, first we must perceive and know what things we ought to do, and then we must have grace and power to do them. The development of perception and knowledge necessarily comes first, for power without wisdom, activity without perception and knowledge, is vain. The tendency of our age, the wisdom of this world, and the temptation of the Church, is towards such mindless and vain activity, towards expediency, towards faddish and fashionable innovation. "Be not conformed."  


From a sermon for the Third Sunday in Epiphany:

Epiphany, as the word itself indicates, is all about manifestation, the showing forth of the divine glory in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God. "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." Epiphany is about that showing, that manifestation, and that beholding of glory; and it is also about the effects of that beholding: so that "we all, with open face beholding as in a glass" (or mirror) "the glory of the Lord, are changed from glory into the same image from glory to glory, even by the Spirit of the Lord." 

All the scripture lessons appointed for the season provide a logical explication, a continuing meditation on that theme: beholding the glory, and being changed thereby. The general pattern is this: the Gospel shows some facet of the manifestation of divine glory in Christ: divine wisdom, divine power, divine love; while each corresponding Epistle lesson shows a corresponding manifestation in our life as Christians. 

Thus, on the First Sunday after Epiphany, our Gospel lesson was the story of Jesus, the child, manifesting the wisdom of God in the midst of the Temple in Jerusalem-- seen here in the window above the altar. The corresponding Epistle lesson (from Romans 12) urged upon us the manifestation of that wisdom in our own life in the Church: "Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." That is to say, the divine wisdom, manifest in Christ, is to be manifest also in us, as the new basis of our life, not only as individuals, but as members of one another in the body of Christ, "according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." 

On the Second Sunday, we had the story of Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding feast in Cana, in Galilee: "the beginning of signs", as St. John says. The miracles of Jesus are always signs, symbolic acts, and in this case, even the occasion is a sign: the wedding feast is a sign of the mystical union between Christ and the Church. Jesus changes water into wine, a sign of the transforming power of God’s grace. In the corresponding Epistle Lesson, again from Romans 12, St. Paul speaks of a renewed life for individual and community, a new life in brotherly love, water changed to wine. 

In this week’s Gospel Lesson (Third Sunday after Epiphany) we have further signs: stories of healing miracles of Jesus-- the cleansing of a leper, and the healing of the centurions’ palsied servant; signs of the power of God to cleanse us of the leprosy of pride, to heal us of the palsy of wrath and alienation-- all those infirmities of which our collect speaks. Once again, the Epistle Lesson yet again from Romans 12, spells out the implications: "Be not wise in your own conceits"; "avenge not yourselves, but rather give place to wrath"; "Be not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good." 

These lessons constitute a cumulative argument, variations on a theme: the theme of manifestation and transformation. The wisdom of God, the mystery hidden from the foundation of the world is now manifest in Christ, and the wisdom is ours to behold, to believe, and to understand, and to make our own, by "the renewing of our mind". By faith beholding the glory, we are "changed into the same image" changed by adoration. Here and now the glory of God in Christ is manifest in word and sacrament, in wisdom and gracious power. It is by beholding, by the steady focussing of intellect and will, by the habit of adoration, that we are changed. That is the meaning of Epiphany, and that must be the basis of spiritual life in us. 


From a sermon for the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany:

The season of Epiphany is longer or shorter, depending upon the date of Easter, and this year this fifth Sunday is the end of the season. The essential message of the whole season is an explication of the meaning of God’s Incarnation. Thus the Gospel lessons are all about the manifestation of divine wisdom and divine power in Jesus Christ – divine wisdom and divine power miraculously transforming human life and human community. The Epistle lessons always present some aspect of transformation, some aspect of divine life manifest in our life; and today’s lesson sums all that up in the terms of the divine gift of charity. 

“And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness”; for that is the Epiphany of divine life in us.