Holland & Usry January 2019

Epiphany: Open Yourself to Inspiration This Year

On Jan. 6 every year, the Christian church observes Epiphany. Deeply considering its meaning, from both a spiritual and practical standpoint, can help us get off to a solid start for the new year. From a spiritual standpoint, Epiphany celebrates the Wise Men arriving to witness and worship the living God among us, Jesus. The story is recounted in Matthew 2:1–12. Just rereading the Biblical account of Epiphany gave me an epiphany. to find Jesus in a house, as revealed by Matthew 2:11. The same verse describes Jesus as a “child.” Biblical scholars have concluded the visit actually occurred several months to two years after the birth. There’s Biblical evidence for that. Matthew 2:16 reports the murderous King Herod, who feared Jesus would overthrow him, ordered the slaughter of all children two and under who lived around Bethlehem. The Magi were also wise not to tell Herod where to find Jesus, despite Herod’s devious plea to tell him under the guise he wanted to worship Jesus, too. Practically speaking, one of the best definitions I found for “epiphany” is from the Collins English Dictionary: “A moment of sudden insight or understanding.” The word “epiphany” comes from the Greek “epiphainein,” which means “reveal.” An epiphany can be a spiritual or intellectual phenomenon where we experience a sudden, profound insight into the essence of something, even life itself. History records great spiritual epiphanies like Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, which led to him becoming the apostle, Paul. Then there are scientific ones that also changed the world. Legend has it Sir Isaac Newton realized how gravity worked when he got beaned by an apple falling from a tree. But epiphanies aren’t limited to the historical giants. We are all eligible for inspiration, and we can keep ourselves open to it by using the Wise Men as a model. Here are two things they taught us: Contrary to traditional depictions of the Wise Men gathered around the newborn baby in a manger, the Magi actually arrived

1. Be present. The Wise Men — who were, after all, wise — showed up. They threw themselves headlong into the moment, worshipping and giving lavish gifts to the newborn King. That tells us to invest in the present moment, make the most of it, and be open to what it can show us. 2. Think clearly. The Wise Men knew exactly what to do when they arrived at the house and when they sidestepped Herod’s evil intentions. How many of our thoughts in life are cluttered with stuff that just doesn’t matter? Clear out the junk. Put down the phone. Don’t be afraid to be bored — remember the French philosopher Rene Descartes, who discovered a vital principle of geolocation while lying in bed bored, trying to figure out how to describe the location of a fly on the ceiling. He figured out he could do it using a ceiling corner as a reference point. Thus came Cartesian mapping, which gives us map coordinates to pinpoint locations. Here’s hoping your new year is full of the wonder, joy, and inspiration that can come when you least expect it — if you’re open to it. –Rob Usry 864.582.0416

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