[More king cakes than you can imagine and only two weeks into Epiphany, I am still tugging on the promise of this season, even as I find myself tugging on clothes that seem strangely tighter...]
Kathleen Norris notes the irony that King Herod “appears in the Christian liturgical year when the gospel is read on the Epiphany, a feast of light…Because of his fear, [Herod] can only pretend to see the light that the Magi have offered him” (Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith, 1998).
Perhaps because of our fear, we can only pretend to see the light Universalism offers us. Here is our epiphany. We are loved, each and every one of us, every single atom and molecule. We are loved – not for what we do or believe, but for the divine light that shines in each of us.
We are all children of the same star dust and no distinctions we create can defile our original blessing. In a culture built on hierarchy and scarcity, it is a faithful act indeed to trust that everyone is held equitably in a compassionate heart of love. The scarcity of divine love is a dangerous myth, a tool to control and coerce.
Our work in this world, beloveds, is to proclaim the message of epiphany. We are loved, not for who we are, but because we are. We do not have to prove ourselves worthy of love any more than we should need to prove ourselves worthy of water. Just as we need water to be healthy human beings, so too do we need the knowledge that we – every single one of us, no exceptions, not even the most evil creature you can think of, every single one of us is held with compassion greater than we can imagine. It is a grace we cannot earn and we cannot lose.
Our faith has long valued acts over beliefs, and as a social justice organizer, I often celebrate this fact. But there is one belief that I pray will soak into the marrow of our bones, into our synapse and our blood. No one is left out of the mystery, no one is denied a strand of the interdependent web of all existence. We are all beloved.
May this season bring you sweetness – and the courage to live as a beloved among beloveds.