Epiphany People Are People of the Resurrection, Not the Insurrection
They went home by another way.
That’s what the Magi did—we don’t know how many, we don’t know their names, we don’t know their skin color (though it’s a safe assumption that none of them were any hue of white).
What we do know is this: rather than making their way to Herod, a self-centered, manipulative, paranoid despot who could nonetheless (or, perhaps, precisely therefore) see the baby both for who he was and the threat that this tiny Jesus posed to his great power, these wise men went home by another way.
With every footstep away from Herod, they renounced him and Herod’s evil intents to boot.
On a hike several weeks back, my beloved and I were talking about our Lutheran service of affirmation of baptism.
We talked about how curious it is that when we go to all the trouble to liturgically ‘renounce’ pretty hefty attempted claims on us, like, say, “the devil and all the forces that defy God, the powers of this world that rebel against God, and the ways of sin that draw you from God,” we do with pretty much the same enthusiasm as it takes us to renounce a ham sandwich in favor of one made with roast beef.
“I renounce them,” we say, politely.
“Funny,” he observed, “how those who embrace such things manage to renounce God with a heck of a lot more fervor than we who renounce such things!”
A year ago today, hoards of people swarmed our nation’s capitol and unabashedly renounced democracy, renounced truth, renounced civility, renounced anything but white supremacy, Christian nationalism, anarchy, and violence.
With every footstep of theirs, they made their way toward Trump, and they embraced him and all of his evil intents.
I still cannot wrap my head around that confluence: the insurrection happened on the day when we in the liturgical Church mark the Season of God Made Manifest.
Christians, we are people of the resurrection, not people of the insurrection.
Both words come from the same Latin root “insurgentem,” meaning ‘to rise up, to rise against,” but their meanings are quite different.
Insurrectionists rise up against a government, in this case one democratically elected.
They renounce communal rules and embrace destruction.
Followers of the resurrection follow a risen Lord.
They embrace community and renounce destruction.
From last year on for some time to come, Christians cannot mark the day of Epiphany without addressing that this day also marks the attempted coup.
On Epiphany, January 6 2021, Christians saw in real life and time the stakes of going home the way of Herod rather than going by home another way.
This is the season of God manifest, of God-made-knowings.
This Epiphany, we are all the more pressed to identify which God we want to make manifest, do make manifest, and do know.
We are also called to renounce all would-be gods, and to do so with the vehemence such renunciations deserve.
Go home, by all means.
But go home by any way other than the one that takes you into any manifestation of Herod and his self-serving trap.