Epiphany, 2: Can anything good come out of [your city]?

A weekly Epiphany devotional post for these 5 weeks of witness. Join us!

I fell into a bit of a post-Christmas rabbit hole and missed out on two of my favorite liturgical dates on the calendar - the Adoration of the Magi and the Baptism of Christ. Still, there's so much richness in this season, and I'm looking forward to getting back into the rhythms looking, listening, praying, and doing acts of spiritual practice each day. You can read here for a brief description of the liturgical season of Epiphany, and see previous Epiphany daybook 2017 posts here

Blessed Epiphany, friends!

*Note: If you're reading this in email, the formatting usually looks much better at the website. Just click the post title to get there.*

The call of Philip and Nathanael - a modern icon

The call of Philip and Nathanael - a modern icon

Music for this week: "Kingdom Land (I'm on My Way)", Alex Mejias (lyrics)

Spotify | YouTube


A playlist for the week on Spotify - Epiphany: Come, follow

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.
— John 1:43-51 (ESV)

Daily office lectionary readings for this week:

* Sunday Scripture readings are taken from the Revised Common Lectionary (Year B). Daily Scripture readings are taken from the Book of Common Prayer (Year 2).

Prayer for this week:

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
— Book of Common Prayer

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This week walk through the neighborhood where you live, work or worship. Pray the collect for this week (above), and ask God to open your eyes to the people and places He's asking you to proclaim the Good News of His salvation. Ask a friend to pray for you to answer readily to what the Spirit reveals to you during your prayer.

Don't miss the special Epiphany blog series where friends of mine from around the world, take us on a virtual walk through their own neighborhoods.

(see all Epiphany posts from 2017 here)

Christmas Daybook, 12: Eve of Epiphany

Welcome to my final Christmas daybook post for these last 12 days of celebrating. We've been (somewhat sporadically) spending Christmastide with some favorite short films and video clips. What's been your favorite? I'd love to hear about it in the comments section!

An antiquities dealer in Bethlehem shows a traditional container for myrrh, one of the three gifts the Magi brought to Jesus. (screenshot from following video)

An antiquities dealer in Bethlehem shows a traditional container for myrrh, one of the three gifts the Magi brought to Jesus. (screenshot from following video)


O Little Town of Bethlehem from Tim Parsons on Vimeo.

The story of the birth of Jesus told by the people of Bethlehem.

We've arrived at Twelfth Night, the culmination of grand festival of Christmastide. I hope your days have been warm, full, and lighthearted. For those of you who've been unable, because of difficulties, to celebrate in that way this year may you know even more deeply the presence of Emmanuel, King Jesus.

Peace be upon you and yours today and into the season of Epiphany light!

Readings for today: Isaiah 66:18-23, Psalm 29, Romans 15:7-13

Prayer for today: 

God of revelation, as we gather in praise for the gracious mystery of your Son, we remember the many needs of your church and your world.

Offer prayers for your community, church, and the world, concluding with:

Guide us on the path of salvation, O God, that the radiance and power of your Holy Spirit working in the world will gather together all peoples and nations in one community to offer you worship and proclaim your splendor. Amen.
— lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/prayers


Listen to T.S. Eliot's "Journey of the Magi", or read it here.

(See all Christmas Daybook posts from 2016 here.)

Christmas Daybook, 10: Savor light

Welcome to my Christmas daybook for these 12 days of celebrating. We'll be spending Christmastide with some favorite short films and video clips. Join me, won't you? 


Bruce Munro - Light Shower installation at Salisbury Cathedral

I highly encourage you to dive deeply into artist Bruce Munro's works at his website

In Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God, writer Bobby Gross refers to the seasons of Advent, Christmastide, and Epiphany as the cycle of light (with Lent - Pentecost, the cycle of life). Living out this cycle in the dark winter of the northern hemisphere benefits body, mind, and spirit, individually and as a community. 

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:1-5)

All readings for today: 1 Kings 19:9-18, Psalm 68, Ephesians 4:17-32, John 6:15-27

Prayer for today:

Light of life, you came in flesh, born into human pain and joy, and gave us power to be your children. Grant us faith, O Christ, to see your presence among us, so that all of creation may sing new songs of gladness and walk in the way of peace. Amen.
— lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/prayers

Observing stars and super moons last December at Grace Farms, New Canaan CT

Observing stars and super moons last December at Grace Farms, New Canaan CT

Follow light like the journeying magi.  

{an excerpt from my post 12 Ways To Savor the 12 Days of Christmas

Find every possible way to savor the beauty of light during the darkest time of the year.  Light candles, build a fire, sit in the dark and look at your lit tree, visit a holiday light show in town, take a bath by candlelight, go outside and look at the stars.

(read more here)

(See all Christmas Daybook posts from 2016 here.)

Christmas Daybook, 9: Savor winter beauty

Welcome to my Christmas daybook for these 12 days of celebrating. We'll be spending Christmastide with some favorite short films and video clips. Join me, won't you? 

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Trying To Save The Red Crowned Cranes Of Japan - Wild Japan - BBC  & Hitch a Ride with Reindeer Herders | National Geographic


Where you live, too? Even our friends in Austin got snow twice this winter already! 

This is the time to savor the beauty unique to cold and snow. While I have no aspirations to be a reindeer herder in Finland or a farmer helping cranes live through winter in cold Japan, I love knowing about those who do. I applaud their heartiness, and hope I can think about them instead of complaining about the cold. There is an austere beauty in the frigid, and these are just two small, amazing examples.

May you enjoy something cozy on this ninth day of Christmas, friends.

All readings for today: 1 Kings 19:1-8, Psalm 34, Ephesians 4:1-16, John 6:1-14

Prayer for today from Evening Prayers For Every Day of the Year by Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt:

O taste and see that the Lord is good! Happy is the man who takes refuge in him! Psalm 34:8, RSV

Dear Father in heaven, we come to you. With thanks we come to you, for again and again you have helped us. Again and again you have let your light shine out on us so that we could be glad and know that our lives are in your hands. Protect us on this earth, where it is so necessary. Protect us, that the light of true life may shine more and more brightly and we may praise your name with our whole heart. Be with us this night, O God, and touch our hearts with your Spirit. Amen.
— Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

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Savor warmth

I'm guessing many of you are back to work, maybe even school, today? Here's something to look forward to when you get back home snug and sound.

We keep a hot cocoa "station" up throughout December and January (well, sometimes February, too!). During the early days of Christmastide we tend to enjoy all the special delicacies that the cocoa takes a back seat. Today's a good day to enjoy again the simple pleasure of a mug of hot cocoa and your favorite add-ons (marshmallows, whipped cream, candy canes, schnapps, etc.) Bonus points for all those who actually venture outside before enjoying the hot beverage.

You may also want to invite along some friends. I love this idea shared at Like Mother, Like Daughter -  Modest Hospitality: A Hot Cocoa Party

(See all Christmas Daybook posts from 2016 here.)

Christmas Daybook, 7 & 8: Savor ringing out the old and ringing in the new

Welcome to my Christmas daybook for these 12 days of celebrating. We'll be spending Christmastide with some favorite short films and video clips. Join me, won't you? 

from "In Memoriam A.H.H." by Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892) (source)

from "In Memoriam A.H.H." by Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892) (source)


Ring Out Wild Bells - Crofts Family & Ring Out, Wild Bells - A New Year's Song by Alana Levandoski

While I'm vaguely familiar with this poem, it wasn't until reading this recent post by the wonderful Victoria Emily Jones (Art & Theology blog) that I took the time to notice the poem - both the words by Tennyson and the various musical arrangements. (See the blog post for a list of various musical settings.) With the poem top of mind, I noticed a day or so later another retuning from a thoughtful musician I follow on Facebook, Alana Levandoski. 

As we end 2017, I'm so grateful for all of these writers and musicians, for every single collaboration and bit of artistic effort that's culminated in the gift of helping me express both lament for the old and hope for the new. 

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Read Victoria Emily Jones' brief introduction of Tennyson's words: 

"This passage, from one of the greatest (and longest!) poems of the nineteenth century, is the source of the popular expression “ring out the old, ring in the new.” Ringing church bells at midnight on New Year’s Eve was already a deep-set tradition in England, and people understood the ringing as ushering in both life (the new year ahead) and death (saying good-bye to the past). But Tennyson’s poeticization of this symbolic practice has made its symbolism all the more enduring, and his list of specific qualities to let go of and others to welcome in provides a helpful template for new-year prayer and resolution making."


All readings for today (first Sunday after Christmas): Isaiah 61:10-62:3, Psalm 148, Galatians 4:4-7, Luke 2:22-40

Prayer for today:

Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
— Book of Common Prayer

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Celebrate today, the final day of 2017

I've been thinking about how the little church I grew up in had a New Year's Eve party that included a lot of food, games, and hilarity, but also a time for sharing hopes and requests, culminating in taking communion together just before midnight. I love that balance of ringing out the old and ringing in the new. Find a way today that is meaningful to you (and your friends and family) to do the same. In the past, we've sometimes each placed a small list of resolutions/hopes/intentions for the new year in the toe of our Christmas stockings to pull out the following year at Christmas. 

Encourage reflection at your table today. It can be as simple as "Name one disappointment and highlight from 2017 and one hope for 2018. If you want to dive a little deeper, here's a great list of questions for conversation and reflection during today's celebration: 20 Questions for New Year's Eve via Art of Simple

Happy New Year, friends!

(See all Christmas Daybook posts from 2016 here.)