The season of Epiphany was the inspiration for me a few years ago to take a different approach with understanding how things happened. Thinking and praying about what God was "up to" led me to decide that I would try to see coincidences NOT as coincidences, but as epiphanies. Rather than thinking "Huh! Isn't that interesting, that quirky thing that happened" I opted to think "What is God trying to show me? What epiphany am I to have? What insight am I to get from this?"
It makes for a different way of seeing, and it seems to me it makes for more receptivity to the work of God in the world.
You see, God is always at work in the world. Even the regularity of nature, of day becoming evening, becoming night, becoming morning--the day-to-day flow of the sun and moon is God at work--and because it is so regular, so consistent, so "every day" we all too often fail to see it as God at work. It takes looking at it in a different way, with a different awareness, a different receptivity, a different anticipation. It's not just the surprising things that happen--although we definitely need to see that God is at work there, too. It is perhaps in the heightened awareness of the day-to-day regularity that we see God at work--and that we see that God is FAITHFULLY at work.
Take the passage for this Sunday from Matthew 3:13-17. John is doing his baptism for repentance. He has been at it for awhile now, and a reasonably large number of people have been baptized. It's the same method every time, so it would seem that there is nothing new to see here--the same or similar words are spoken, the same or similar process of pouring water is done (most Biblical scholars agree that most likely John poured water over the person's head rather than "dipping" him/her backward into the river). And nothing would be any different with the method, the words, the process for Jesus. And if there are doves in that area, no doubt a dove flying in the sky isn't an unusual thing either. But Jesus SEES something in the routine, and the dove, and grasps something that God is doing that others don't see, and don't grasp. An epiphany happens--a "seeing" something that is all too easy to miss--something that affects the way he then moves forward with his life and his ministry.
Try it. Try to see with new eyes. Try to "get" when God is doing something that you ought to pay attention to. And tell me about it. I look forward to discerning with you what God is up to!
GOSPEL Matthew 3:13-17
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”