Pastoral Ponderings . . . 

Friendship is indeed a happy net to be tangled in:  lives inter-twined in life-giving ways; friends who share laughter and sorrow; friends who lend a hand, who call just because they care. I think that’s how Jesus fished for people. I think that’s how we wanted us to see the whole world and find abundant life together through friendship, and partnership. Because the opposite is too terrible to imagine. So much suffering, want, and need result. “Follow me, and we’ll fish for people together” says Christ. The ways of Christ are meant to create honest friendship, not just among those most like us, but among those we think are so different.

Isn’t it a wonder that the more we pursue friendship, the more we find how much we share in common? That’s an epiphany moment we all can have, any time of year. Epiphany is the season of revelation whether that’s “Aha!”  or  “Oh no!” What was hidden is revealed. “The light” as we say “shines in the shadows, and the shadows do not overcome it.”

The Light of Christ always invites us into deeper relationship because in deeper relationship we find deeper truth about ourselves, about our world, and about God.

The deeper we go in friendship with God, the more we find God everywhere. The deeper we go in friendship with each other, the more we find we are alike. The deeper we go in friendship with ourselves, the more we find peace. Those are some of the epiphanies Jesus is inviting us to discover in following Him. They are “the things that make for peace” as St.Paul says.

Seldom have we been so divided in our nation’s history. But our division wearies us. I feel like we are craving renewed friendship.  We are craving peace. I think that’s what the way of Christ offers everyone. Things like forgiveness, compassion, dignity, lovingkindness toward all. The things that make for true friendship in a net of friendship held together in Christ’s love.                                                                                                                             

For me, Inauguration Day was an Epiphany day. A day of Light, of dignity, of common purpose re-affirmed. A day when our newest and youngest national poet was revealed. And her words were as pure and perfect as snowflakes. Amanda Gorman’s poetry lifted our sights from division that we had never seen in 200 years to a vision of what we as a nation still can be, as she said, “if only we’re brave enough to be it.” To me it was all about Epiphany. She spoke of daylight, dawn, and truth, and harmony for all:

“When day comes we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade
We've braved the belly of the beast
We've learned that quiet isn't always peace
And the norms and notions
of what just is
Isn’t always just-ice

And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it
Somehow we do it Somehow we've weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished”                                                                                                                       

To me her words and alliteration, and wisdom were all about Epiphany. Amanda Gorman, our nation’s youth poet all of 22 years of age, stole the show.  She invoked those better angels we are always being called to become in the way of Christ. She spoke the truth of our past, our shared sin as a nation, and how this era, these hardest of hard times, are, as she put it, “the era of just redemption.” 

Amanda Gorman’s poem read us.  It reads our times. And speaks not of doom, but of Hope:

“And yes we are far from polished
far from pristine
but that doesn’t mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect
We are striving to forge a union with purpose
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and
conditions of man

And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us
but what stands before us
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another                                                                                                           
We seek harm to none and harmony for all                                                                                                                  
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew
That even as we hurt, we hoped
That even as we tired, we tried
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious
Not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division
Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
And no one shall make them afraid
If we’re to live up to our own time
Then victory won’t lie in the blade
But in all the bridges we’ve made
That is the promised glade
The hill we climb
If only we dare
It's because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy
And this effort very nearly succeeded
But while democracy can be periodically delayed
it can never be permanently defeated
In this truth
in this faith we trust                                                                                                                  
For while we have our eyes on the future
history has its eyes on us
This is the era of just redemption
We feared at its inception
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was
but move to what shall be
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free

We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation
Our blunders become their burdens                                                                                                                   
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy
and change our children’s birthright . . .
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover
and every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful

When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it”


Amanda Gorman.  Our nation’s poet and Epiphany prophet, speaking into being the things that make for peace, and the net of Christ’s friendship.

“Word of God.  Word of life.”     Thanks be to God!                   -- Pr. David