Have An Epiphany!
Christian churches around the world celebrate Epiphany on January 6th each year. I’m behind a few days because I’ve been noodling the scripture for a while, chewing it slowly and letting it digest. The story fascinates me because of a few “new age” type elements that are sprinkled throughout it. (I guess I’m a new age hippy dippy gal at heart.) Found in the Bible in the Gospel of Matthew, the story explains King Herod’s outrage over the birth of Jesus and the journey of the wisemen, traveling to visit the newborn baby. Herod insists the wisemen find the baby and tell him exactly where he is, so that he too can go worship him. Oh, the irony. (Can you really call yourself a wise man if you believe for a second that Herod ever intended to bow down and worship the new King Jesus?)
Nevertheless, the wisemen leave Herod and begin their journey. The star, which they had seen in the East, went before them until it stood where the baby was. (Matthew 2:9) It seems like simple Sunday school trivia for children. Question: “How did the wisemen find baby Jesus?” Answer: “They followed the star.” Okay, but how often do we stop and think about the mystery of that guidance? God, needing a way to communicate with the wisemen, a way to lead them to the place they needed to be, used a beautiful shining star in the sky as a sign for them to see and follow. We accept that this was a logical, feasible way for God to send a message to those men over 2,000 years ago.
But perhaps the deeper question is, is it still a logical and feasible method of divine communication today? Most of us cringe, and say no way, that following the stars and paying attention to astrology in general is slightly less than “holy.” How often do we give others flak for seeking and believing in signs and guidance from the stars, even if they believe it is truly guidance from God? It’s a fine line that gets both blurred and regularly stomped on these days.
I’ve read some interesting “planetary” explanations for human behavior in my lifetime. I’ll admit to finding the occasional astrological forecast to be at the very least thought provoking. I’ve even experienced a random revelation or two during a new moon, full moon, or eclipse. Who am I to say God isn’t still using the stars to guide people? We’ve all witnessed a shooting star, seen a brightly shining planet, experienced the vast expansiveness of the milky way sky and been deeply moved and spiritually inspired. (Or is that just me?)
Later in the Epiphany story, the scripture slips in some subtle references to dream interpretation, another “new age” type detail I find myself quick to embrace. “Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.” (Matthew 2:12) The wisemen receive a warning message in their dreams from God, not to return to Herod. And then the scripture tells us that an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” (Matthew 2:13)
Hold up. These people—Joseph and the wisemen—receive a message from God in their regular old dreams? Does that mean people today (regular old people like you and me) can receive such powerful messages from God, Spirit, Universe, etc. about our regular old lives? Spoiler alert: YES! We can. One of my favorite books by Neale Donald Walsch called God’s Message to the World: You’ve Got Me All Wrong, discusses this very idea.
He suggests that God has always guided and talked directly to human beings. He presents an amazing interfaith laundry list of examples like Lao Tzu, Buddha, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Mother Mary, Teresa of Avila, Joan of Arc, and many others who communicated with and were inspired by the Divine. He further asserts that perhaps all of us are being spoken to, every minute, every hour, every day. He presses us to consider whether divine communication is still happening today. How would you respond if you walked into work and your coworker declared God spoke to them in a dream? Most of us would say or at least think no way—just like we would say finding guidance and signs in the stars and astrology is also a no way. But how can we really know?
A prophet is someone who receives and transmits a message from God to the world. Countless religions are built upon not only a particular prophet, but the subsequent message. How open and receptive are you to this idea? Are you willing to accept that God, Spirit, Universe, Source uses all sorts of things (even things like stars and dreams) to reach humans? Yes, humans like you and me. Spirit uses any resource available to reach us because Spirit is limitless and all things are possible. The more aligned we are with Spirit and the more still we become, the easier it is for us to be intuitive, to be guided, and to understand God’s will for our highest good and best life.
Epiphany means “the unveiling” or “the revealing,” from the Greek word for manifestation or appearance. The wisemen were the first to recognize the newborn child as divine love in expression—God incarnate in physical form. I invite you to open yourself to your own epiphany. Recognize the Christ in yourself, and open yourself to God’s spiritual guidance and inspiration. Be ready to receive, for God often works in unique, unusual ways. Don't be afraid to follow those stars and embrace your dreams!