Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
To the saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the gospel that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God. This you learned from Epaphras, our beloved fellow-servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, and he has made known to us your love in the Spirit.
For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. -- Colossians 1:1-14 (NRSV)
Next to Advent, Epiphany is my favorite season. It seems that although I have insights from time to time during the year, it is during Epiphany that they come more easily and more frequently. If a season were a thin place, Epiphany would be mine. It's more than a season, it's an enlightenment, a revelation, a seeing of things in a new way and it can happen any time of the year. One year I seemed to have had little epiphanies almost every day and kept track of them by writing about them. It was like a series of those "WOW! I coulda had a V8™!" moments when suddenly the world shifts and a new way of looking at things comes through.
The Colossians obviously experienced some epiphanies as they heard Epaphras preach and teach. I sorta wish we had record of what it was that he said that produced such rich fruit . Certainly the Spirit was moving among them and they responded. Paul, or whoever was writing in his name, is certainly encouraging them to continue their growth in faith and the fruitfulness of that faith. The sudden switch from "you" to "us," though, becomes a thanksgiving that reminds the Colossians that they are not an isolated community but rather one connected to people of the faith all through the growing Christian sphere.
What I sense from the passage is that for an epiphany to be of value it has to be acted upon, not just observed and then forgotten. Like anything else, it must be recalled, cultivated carefully and then actually produce something positive, something of value and purpose. The Colossians obviously were doing this and, in the process, increased in strength, dedication, faith and good works, all signs of a focus on God. Epaphras evidently taught them well.
Epiphanies are gifts from the Spirit. They can't be exchanged like a bad Christmas tie but, in a sense, they can be re-gifted, passed on to someone else in the form of good works, looking and listening for subtle calls for a shoulder to cry on or even a chance to ask if someone has a need we can help fill. The Colossians seem to have learned this, and I marvel that their example still inspires more thought of how to do the same thing in a very different world.
I still have epiphanies now and again, situations and experiences that make me stop and think about how I suddenly see something from a different angle. The first thing I have to do is not just see it differently but react to it differently, making something good and useful happen because of it. Most of all, I must not just sit back and wait for an epiphany to show up but actually be awake and aware enough to see even tiny ones that I might otherwise overlook , then do something with the insight.
All the faith in the world is of no use unless it is reflected in the difference it makes in the world.
I think I have just found a new mantra, a V8™ moment for sure.
Originally published at Speaking to the Soul at Episcopal Café Saturday, January 7, 2012.