We celebrated Epiphany at our church this morning, although technically Epiphany was yesterday.
It might have been particularly appropriate that our Bible study class was reading the first chapter of Daniel, since Daniel was presumably one of the kind of people who appear in Jerusalem on Epiphany: a magus, a “wise man,” “from the east.” At least, he would have been from the east after he had been taken to Babylonia from Judah at the time of the exile. We also noted that God gives Daniel and his companions special skill in wisdom matters after their decision not to eat the royal rations of Babylonian food – that is, to make their stand on faithfulness to God’s instructions at that point. So, perhaps their excellent wisdom constituted a reward for their faithfulness. [Maybe this could remind us of Augustine’s statement “I believe so that I may understand,” although in the case of Daniel it was probably less an issue of believing than of doing.]
The choir wore new choir robes. [Even the choir mascot, a particularly pious Sheltie rescue, had one that had been specially hand-made by one of the choir members.] The sermon was a midrash, accompanied by drumming, on the tale of the little drummer boy. It pointed out that it’s wise to know that “we give the best we can,” “what other people think of your gifts doesn’t matter,” and “if we wait until our gifts are good enough for those we love, we will never give gifts.” And speaking as one of “the 98% of people who don’t like drums,” at least not particularly, it was a really effective use of drumming in worship. [Honestly. It might be one of those things where “you had to be there.”]
And the annual meeting of the congregation proceeded decently and in order. This year, we held the meeting “in” the worship service, so that all the worship up to the opening of the meeting constituted “opening the meeting with prayer” (which is an instruction we are supposed to follow), and the benediction at the end of worship constituted “closing the meeting with prayer” (which is another instruction we are supposed to follow). In between, we did the things we are required to do at this meeting by our polity and the rules for corporations in the State of Indiana. It was a nice reminder that the whole life of the community – including our organization and our decision making – really takes place in the context of our life of worship. [We worship – we pray, and sing, and read Scripture, and listen, and try to do what Christ commands, and comply with the requirements of the Book of Order, and deliberate as a community, and live our lives individually and together in this way – so that we may understand.]