Sunday, January 2, 2011

Homily for the Epiphany Walk

The six Christian congregations in the Village of Pawling, NY have a longstanding, unique, and beloved tradition called the Epiphany Walk. Each year on the Sunday before Epiphany, members of the congregations and the community walk together from church to church, stopping at each for a brief service or program. In the past, churches have featured their choirs, a portion of their children’s Christmas program, a prayer service, a hymn sing, etc. Each church does something different. At Christ the King, we pray Evening Prayer, sing two hymns, feature a choral piece, and I preach a brief homily. Each of the churches builds its theme around one of the pericopes of Epiphantide.


Isaiah 9:2-7

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

It is the ninth day of Christmas; three more to go, and then the Epiphany. Many of you have already chucked your tree to the curb; that’s ok, especially considering you may have set it up over a month ago, just after Thanksgiving. And, if your decorations are still up, they may be beginning to look a bit bedraggled and disheveled. That’s understandable. Soon, we will have all packed up our ornaments and stowed away our trimmings and put Christmas behind us for another year. However, my friends, let us not put a cover on the Light that we have enjoyed this season. For what we celebrate at Christmas is the fact that the True Light who enlightens everyone has penetrated this world of darkness, sin, and death. And that that has changed everything!

You were once a people walking in darkness, but now you are children of the Light. You have been changed! You are no longer in the dark, but you are in the light. You are no longer strangers, but you are children, even sons! This God has done for you – this God has done to you – in the incarnation of His Son Jesus Christ. There is nothing for you to do but to live and to walk in the Light and to not hinder the Light from shining about you and through you. My friends, this is as passive and natural as being born. Christ’s birth is the new birth of all humanity; Christ’s birth is your new birth – you are a child of the Light, a son of your heavenly Father, born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Being a son of God means that you have access to your heavenly Father. You can ask Him anything in the Name of Jesus and He will give it to you. More than that, you have access to His will and His voice; He is with you always with His Word to lighten your path and guide your feet, His Absolution to restore you when you go astray, and with His flesh and blood to strengthen you in communion with Himself. You are always loved and you are never alone.

Yet, even now the sun is setting. This world can still be a very dark and a very cold place. But the night is but a little while, and even in the darkness of our night, we know that the sun is still shining and that dawn will soon break. Dear friends, do not despair at the darkness of the world. Do not lose hope because of the personal darkness in your lives. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given – and that has changed everything!

The government is upon His shoulder – no, not the bloated, corrupt, inefficient, and misguided governments of men, but the government of the universe and all things in it where Christ stands as the Lamb who was slain, the flagstaff of sins forgiven for all the world. His Name is Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. He is your Savior. He is your God. He is your brother. And that has changed everything!

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.


Vegaia said...

A Holiday Thought...

Aren't humans amazing? They kill wildlife - birds, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice and foxes by the million in order to protect their domestic animals and their feed.

Then they kill domestic animals by the billion and eat them. This in turn kills people by the million, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative - and fatal - health conditions like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and cancer.

So then humans spend billions of dollars torturing and killing millions more animals to look for cures for these diseases.

Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals.

Meanwhile, few people recognize the absurdity of humans, who kill so easily and violently, and once a year send out cards praying for "Peace on Earth."

~Revised Preface to Old MacDonald's Factory Farm by C. David Coates~


Anyone can break this cycle of violence! Everyone has the power to choose compassion! Please visit these websites to align your core values with life affirming choices: &

"And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat." ~ Genesis 1:29

Fr. Jon M. Ellingworth said...


I must admit, I hesitate in responding to your comment as, particularly, the statements and links at the end seem like SPAM. But, then, the main part of the comment – the quote from Coats – seems sincere enough. However, I do wonder why you chose to comment on this little Epiphany homily of mine with your musings about veganism and anti-cruelty to animals (human animals included).

Coming at this as a Christian pastor and theologian, and a carnivore to boot, here are my initial thoughts in response to your comments via Coats:

Yes, human beings truly are amazing in many ways, and often in extremely opposing ways, committing both horrible acts of cruelty and inspiring acts of sacrifice and selflessness. Humans are corrupted by sin, but still retain a knowledge of right and wrong, good and evil, and, often do the right or noble thing regardless of faith in God.

As I read the Scriptures, it was God who slaughtered the first animals in order to provide a covering for man’s nakedness which served to point to the shedding of innocent blood as the atonement for sin (see Genesis 3:21). This, of course, points to Jesus Christ, whom God sent, and who willingly laid down His life, as the sacrificial Lamb to take away the sin of the world.

It does seem that before the fall into sin man ate a vegetarian diet. However, it is obvious that after the fall, for good or for bad, man ate both plant and flesh (and, arguably, needs both to remain healthy and strong).

Coats describes well the sort of vicious cycle of killing, eating, and dying (of food related diseases and of poverty and starvation caused by the economics of food). This is the result of sin which results in man’s greed and selfishness and, in extreme situations, the intentional impoverishment of peoples and nations and war. However, I think it is inaccurate to lay the blame of all these human woes on meat-eating. Again, it is sin that is at the root.

Coats’ final quote – “Meanwhile, few people recognize the absurdity of humans, who kill so easily and violently, and once a year send out cards praying for "Peace on Earth" – is utter foolishness. Is he suggesting that Christian carnivores, particularly, are to blame for all the human suffering on the planet? What is the percentage of humans “who kill so easily and violently”?

Anyway, I thank you for reading and for taking the time to chime in.

Many blessings to you and yours.

In Christ,