Synchroblog: Epiphany Outside Theophany (Outside Christianity)

Forgive me, fellow Synchrobloggers, friends, and blog readers, I'm feeling a little feisty as I approach this month's Synchroblog project:
This month’s synchroblog’s theme is inspired by the season of Epiphany which begins on January 6 and ends the day before Ash Wednesday. The word “epiphany” is rich in meaning. Epiphany is derived from the Greek epiphaneia and means manifestation, shining forth, revelation or appearance. In a religious context, the term describes the appearance of an invisible divine being...
In a specifically Christian context, epiphany is a reference to the Theophany or manifestation of God in Jesus Christ.

But I've been arguing all week with several Christians who were not only hell bent on demonizing Islam for purposes I could not get them to admit (I assume evangelistic -- the worse THEY look, the better WE look?  Apparently?) but who also refused to admit Christianity was capable of manifesting anything evil, false, untrue... even going so far as to state that anyone who would teach or practice "unchristian things" was "not a true Christian."  For example: the prosperity pastors in Africa pouring acid down children's throats for money, to "eradicate witchcraft," weren't really Christians.

How convenient.  The pedophile priests were probably Hindu, but I digress...

I'll be blogging a lot more about this in the coming weeks because I feel a huge desire to repent for all of the sins I've committed as a Christian, and for all of the sins my faith-of-origin has committed through the last two thousand years in the name of Christ (overcompensation tends to be in my nature).  Also because I have a lot of built-up schtick I need to utilize.

Meanwhile, I wanted to spend a little time in this exploration of Epiphany, thinking about the Epiphany of God outside the boundaries of Christendom and Christian jargon.

I'm always first reminded of a friend of mine who is an agnostic.  He's kind, good-natured, and infinitely fair-minded.  I won't name him since he drops in on this blog from time to time and I don't want to embarrass him.  The point is, I wish Christians broadly behaved the way he does.  The church would be a gentler, humbler, warmer, more loving, compassionate place.  The church would look like Jesus, because that friend of mine -- that agnostic, who doesn't worry about heaven or hell, theology or church -- behaves more like Jesus than most Christians I know.  He's an epiphany without a label or a sinner's prayer.

Second, I'm reminded of an article a friend sent me a week ago: Muslims serve Christmas Eve dinner to 300.  He wrote wryly: "those damn Muslims, doing what Jesus told US to do.  Terrorists."  The article describes how a local Muslim group in Montreal decided to reach out to their local community by donating, and serving food at the Christmas Eve dinner at a mission in town.  As an aside, the fundamentalist man I was arguing with today (very angry) had said, "Muslims will babble 'Allah Akbar' while cutting your throat!" And ranted on about how superior Christian morality is.  But I see Christ wherever the Fruits of the Spirit are manifested in the world.  I don't need a fish on the bumper for permission to approve.  And I've certainly had my throat cut by more than one Christian in my life, yelling "Praise Jesus"... well, we Christians stab in the back more typically don't we?  Ah, but I'm getting off track again.  You'll have to forgive me.  These are posts to come and I'm just too darned excited!


In my view, the service of that Islamic group on Christmas Eve in Montreal is an epiphany.


Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."  He didn't give a lot of stipulations.  And he didn't ask for a code word.


Finally, as I've written about the Tao Te Ching and Rumi many times before, my wife bought me The Gift by Sufi master poet Hafiz for Christmas this year.  The beauty of the words, and the universality of the truth I find here, is an epiphany:


E V E R Y W H E R E

Running
Through the streets
Screaming,

Throwing rocks through windows,
Using my own head to ring
Great bells,

Pulling out my hair,
Tearing off my clothes,

Tying everything I own
To a stick,
And setting it on
Fire.

What else can Hafiz do tonight
To celebrate the madness,
The joy,

Of seeing God
Everywhere!



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I hope you'll read all of the other participants in this month's Synchroblog!


5 comments:

Ellen Haroutunian said...

Awesome! God is indeed everywhere and his heart manifests in those we assume are "outside". What a concept! :-) Have you seen this article? http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/3365.aspx
Muslims risking their lives so Coptic Christians can worship!

Liz said...

Wow Peter - where do I begin? There is so much good stuff in this short post of yours! I'm so glad you were feeling spicy. Love, love, love the poem!! It really goes right along with the journey I have been on the last few months - reminded me a little of Merton. I too "see Christ wherever the Fruits of the Spirit are manifested in the world." and in my view also "the service of that Islamic group on Christmas Eve in Montreal is an epiphany", a shining forth of God!

Liz said...

LOL!!! I said "spicy" when I meant "feisty"

Mike said...

Peter ~ Thanks for sharing your spicy take on "Christianity". I look forward to hearing more of your future rants on the subject!

kathyescobar said...

great post, peter. a good feisty one, ha ha. i am so with you, i see Christ's love reflected in all kinds of ways and through people who do not carry the label "Christian" or honestly do not even know what the words "doctrine" or "theology" even are. and do not need them to love. the time (and money!) we waste picking part whose on God's team and who's not, who's right and who's wrong, who's in and who's out could be used in such better, kinder, more compassionate, more tangible ways.

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