We had an amazing celebration of Epiphany last Sunday (on the Baptism of our Lord) the 7th, with a pig roast no less! Our parish (Church of the Epiphany) is now 111 years old. It’s amazing to see how a church goes from extinction to growth in so many different kinds of ways.
This particular parish began in 1896 but was the most vital in the 1950s under a rector who was very ‘charismatic’ and was able to make many of the older ladies swoon. He vacilated between the priesthood and Hollywood and preached many a dramatic sermon. The church had no windows for most of its history (the current building plant is 66 years old) and this founding rector would preach with all of the lights down, except the one on him. He also had a ‘healing ministry’ of the science of the mind/Mary Baker Eddy variety and was a mason. There are rumors of strange rites existing in the church–both of the Anglican and not so Christian variety.
Another interesting (strange?) piece of history is that every rector who followed the first found themselves either dead, disabled or caught in immorality.
The word ‘epiphany’ means ‘manifestation’ or ‘revealing.’ The Magi had the first ‘epiphany’ when they saw the Lord revealed by the star. Jesus revealed his own Deity through his baptism (where the Father and the Spirit were also present) and in his many ‘signs,’ (as John puts it)–that is, his miracles.
John said in his gospel that the Light shone in the darkness–yet the darkness could not understand it. This parish called ‘Epiphany’ is in a place where it needs to overcome its past darkness, the darkness of this thing we call ‘the Episcopal Church’ and the current darkness of the secular culture that surrounds us.
It ain’t the 1950s and folks these days must choose to be disciples of Jesus and not to wear the denominational badge. But that is a good thing. We all know the Light Shining in the Darkness is Jesus Christ. The Darkness cannot overcome him.
The thing about the dark is that you only need a little bit of light to penetrate it. Light a match in a dark room and suddenly the dark is not what it was before. Imagine what the Light of the world can do with the darkness of our hearts, and with the darkness of one parish’s past. The Light burns and the world is changed.