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January 14, 2018: The Welcome of Epiphany

by Greg Lebel, Junior Warden 

When I was a kid, I really didn’t understand what Epiphany was all about.  This might have been because the nuns in my Catholic school called it “Little Christmas,” even though the presents and tree were gone and vacation was over.  As I grew up, I began to understand Epiphany as the manifestation of Jesus as savior for the entire world. 

Jesus’s own public ministry confirmed that message of inclusion.  He hung out with many who were outsiders to the established religious leaders of the day: tax collectors, lepers, prostitutes.

And this continued after Jesus’s death, resurrection, and ascension in the ministry of Saint Paul, who acted on his belief that salvation was open to Gentiles as well as the Jewish people.  His work changed the trajectory of early Christian life.

Over the past few months, a small group of parishioners accepted our invitation to read Stephanie Spellers’ book, Radical Welcome: Embracing God, the Other, and Spiritual Transformation. Rev. Spellers, who serves on the staff of our Presiding Bishop Curry, explains that Radical Welcome is the spiritual practice of embracing and being changed by the gifts, perspectives, and voices of the Other—those often cast out or ignored in our churches, denominations, or society. 

In this spiritual practice, we are called to open our individual and collective hearts to include marginalized souls, to learn from them and be transformed by their presence, engagement, and leadership.  The task before us is to seek out, welcome, and share power and prerogatives with those whom we find it all too easy to forget or dismiss.

So what might this look like at All Souls? Our small group is still meeting, and will bring some ideas forward for parish-wide consideration later this year.  For example, we are exploring how to improve our process of greeting visitors on Sunday, how to effectively welcome newcomers into a deeper relationship with the parish in every way, and ideas for creating opportunities for parishioners to mingle outside their usual circles.

As we continue in this season of Epiphany and beyond, I hope that this small group and then the larger parish will continue to embrace this opportunity to experience God’s grace more fully; to (as Rev. Spellers says) feel our hearts stretch, grow, and fill as we discover the joy of offering and receiving, transforming and being transformed by the experience of Christ’s love in each other.   

Last Published: January 11, 2018 12:32 PM
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