New Light (by Megan Popa)

I’ve always loved the start of a new year… resolutions, a new planner and a clean slate! We’ve just come through that season of holidays – from Halloween to New Year’s Eve – it seems to fly by every year with family and friends and parties and shopping and all that stuff we all love. But let’s be honest, it can also be a little exhausting! There’s something fresh and rejuvenating about the New Year that always gets me excited. I usually sit down and write out some goals for the year – I’m going to eat better, exercise more, pray more regularly, read these books, learn this new skill, travel to these places, etc. For me, it’s always been one of my favorite times of year. Things feel new and exciting and full of possibility!

And while much of the world has long forgotten Christmas, our Church continues to celebrate the season until the sixth of January, with the Feast of the Epiphany. We remember the journey of those pagan astrologers, or “wise men”, who left their familiar land, inspired by a deep spiritual longing and guided by a light in the sky. They no doubt had to leave some things behind before setting out on this strange, new journey, and most likely carried with them a number of questions and doubts. Nevertheless, they ventured out of their comfort zone, and ended up encountering God in the most humble and unexpected of places. And their experience brought them to their knees, filled them with joy and gratitude, and forever changed their lives going forward.

Advent called us to a posture of waiting and preparation, but the Epiphany asks of us to respond to God’s presence in the world. It seems like no coincidence that it coincides with the beginning of our calendar year, a time to look ahead with new hope and possibility. Where might God be stirring something new inside of us? What comforts or old ways might he be asking us to leave behind? Where is he challenging us to go beyond what we think we know? The Epiphany asks us too, like the wise men, to keep our eyes on the horizon, looking and moving forward, trusting in God’s light and love as our guide. It asks us to continue to “shine forth” to the world around us, seeking new ways to be a light to those around us and challenging ourselves to live with spirits of courage, compassion and a renewed sense of hope.