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Epiphany: A Month of Mission, a Season of Service

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The Young Adult Network for the Diocese of New York is embarking on a unique and exciting challenge for the first part of the season of Epiphany.

The Plan: Make January 6 – 31 a season of service, a month of mission by offering invitation to engage in outreach and servant ministry around Manhattan and Brooklyn, working side by side.

Launch: The month of Mission was launched on Sunday, January 6, The Epiphany, with a commissioning service at St. James Episcopal Church.

Below are the prayers and the sermon that set this community in motion.  Read, mark, pray with the Young Adult Network, and if you are able, join in with one or several of the opportunities posted at

 

 

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Look down, O Lord, from your heavenly throne, and shine forth your light in our darkness, that your presence may be revealed to us, and that by night and day your people may glorify your holy Name; for the love of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

By way of Bethlehem lead us, O Lord, to newness of life;
By the innocence of the Christ Child renew our simple trust;
By the tenderness of Mary deliver us from cruelty and hardness of heart;
By the patience of Joseph save us from all rash judgment and action;
By the shepherds’ watch open our eyes to the sins of your coming;
By the wise men’s journey keep our searching spirit from fainting;
By the music of the heavenly choir put to shame the clamor of the earth;
And by the shining of a star guide our feet into the way of peace.
In Jesus name, we pray.
Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almighty God, look with favor upon these persons who have now reaffirmed their commitment to follow Christ and to serve in his name.  Give them courage, patience, and vision; and strengthen us all in our Christian vocation of witness to the world, and of service to others; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Epiphany sermon preached, January 6, 2013

St. James’ Church, New York, NY, The Rev. Mary Cat Young

A favorite quote:
Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or I find it not. –Ralph Waldo Emerson.

They were looking for something.  They had been on this journey for a long time, not just a few weeks or a few months, or a few years – these were magi, astrologers, wise-ones.  Their journey was a life-long pilgrimage with stops along the way, nights spent around campfires telling stories, and listening to those of their companions on the road – men passing down oral histories and songs of their communities, women and children listening at their feet, eyes twinkling with reflections of the embers before them.  They were star-gazers, who had watched the skies long enough to recognize seasonal changes that appeared year in and year out, allowing them to recognize something out of the ordinary – something apparent that did not belong that was suddenly placed before them.  Something they could not ignore…

Their journey was a pilgrimage, a pathway of seeking, something… Something sacred?  Something that would mark their journey’s end?  Something that would provide them rest, an end to the restlessness.  They were seeking something that would confirm the urge, the impulse that they could not ignore, to seek the holy.
Our scripture passage doesn’t tell us how far these wise ones came before they were noted and noticed in Israel.  But they were noticed.  Their questions about a king born of Jewish descent had made its way to the ear of Herod, who had his own informants seek out these strangers and bring them to his presence.  I doubt these men were fools – they made their command performance before the governor, and accepted his bid to complete their journey, to find the child at the end of their path, and then they moved on, disappearing into the desert, into history.  They had found their way to the place this astral phenomenon had led them, to the feet of an infant, before whom they bowed their heads and offered gifts. Their pilgrimage had led them to discover the holy.  But their journey was not yet over – it had only just begun.  The world was changed forever, and so were they, and so are we.

We are pilgrim people.  We are on that journey – captivated by the passions that are fulfilled in our vocational calling, friendship circles, identification with a church community, denomination, world faith… The revelation of the Christ-child to the wise-men – the gentiles, is symbolic of the attraction toward God at the center of our lives, our journey, our pilgrimage of discovering that, and our continuation of that journey to take what we have seen, what has been revealed to us, into the world, and give it away.

What has been revealed to us?  Three things.

First, God entered into this world in the same form that we did – fragile, humble, human – Christ shares in our humanity.

Second, perceiving God’s presence is transformative.  Men, women, children, rich, poor, prostitute, tax collector, magi, you me: Those who encountered Jesus then and in this time and place cannot help but be impacted, changed, transformed, upon perceiving and understanding that God is in Christ.

Third, The journey does not end upon discovering God. Much like the path of the labyrinth, with twists and turns, one is always working their way toward the center, bringing questions, hopes, confessions, petitions to the heart of God. The center of the labyrinth, is only the halfway mark. The journey continues with the change that is carried back into the world on the pathway out.

Christ shares in our humanity.
Perceiving God’s presence is transformative.
The journey does not end upon discovering God.

Each of us that is present here tonight has perceived, or received or been offered the gift of gathering in prayer and praise and worship of the living God.  We lay these things at the feet of the infant who will become a king and wear a crown of thorns, human, fragile, vulnerable. Christ reached into our human life. How do we reach forth to seek God?

The Young Adult Network of the Diocese of New York tonight embarks upon a pilgrimage, an invitation to seek to the Holy, to seek God in the places where the most fragile, vulnerable, human need exists.  This pilgrimage, this Month of Mission, is a challenge to step forward, into the world, to go to those places of fragility. Being in the presence of vulnerability is hard – it has the power to one feel helpless – but going there is the antidote to hopelessness and despair that attempts to paralyze Gods people into apathy..  Building a relationship, building community, being a companion, giving a part of yourself away – this is what being at the feet of the savior draws forth from us, this is what the invitation to serve awakens in us – the part of ourselves that creates hope, that reflects the light of love alive, afire, warming the world.  On this day of Epiphany, we join with the wise ones who discovered the Lord, and were sent with a new message to share – a message not only of fulfillment of the promises God made in covenant with God’s people, but of our ability be bearers of the Christ light, bearers of the story, bearers of hope and change in this world.

When God entered the world as one of us, embarked on a journey of reconciling Gods lost and broken people unto Godself, God was looking for something… Seeking something… Seeking you and me.  We are in this journey together. Let us then arise to the occasion, let us go forth into the world rejoicing, let us go forth into the world, born, transformed, and engaged in the journey of bringing the light of Christ to the places that need it most, and let us be changed yet again by what we find there – the very Christ that we bring with us, whom we are likely to discover was there all along.   For, “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.”  Amen.

 

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