Epiphany is a season of revelation, of revealing things unseen or as yet seen only dimly. It is a season in which our lectionary readings and worship help us once again enter into the mystery and grace of God revealed in Jesus and our common call to follow, come and see, stay with him, and invite others to do the same. As Episcopalians, and perhaps especially as Episcopalians tucked away into these surrounding mountains, we may sometimes feel like our common way of life is something unseen by the unchurched or as yet seen only dimly by our non-Episcopal neighbors. It may be helpful to those interested in creating an “Epiphany of Episcopalianism” to have some ready ideas on why many of our neighbors would find our way of life to their benefit and why some should truly come and see. So, I share the following from my former Bishop, mentor and friend who spoke unapologetically about why one should be an Episcopalian.
“You should be an Episcopalian if you believe men and women are fundamentally equal in the sight of God and that women as well as men should be able to serve in every office in the Church. In the Episcopal Church there are women who are acolytes, women vestry members, women senior and junior wardens, women deacons, woman priests, woman bishops, and even a woman Presiding Bishop.
You should be an Episcopalian if you believe age, race, sexual orientation, or disability shouldn’t keep anyone from having an equal place in the House of God.
You should be an Episcopalian if you believe in the power of both the Word of God preached and in the Presence of God as revealed through the sacraments. If you find solace and strength in hearing God’s word preached with power and in receiving the Body and Blood of Christ on a regular basis, you have come to the right place.
You should be an Episcopalian if you believe that the glory of God can be revealed through beautiful architecture, beautiful music, beautiful liturgy, beautiful art, and beautiful literature. Episcopalians believe God is fully revealed in the midst of such beauty and we seek to support and value the aesthetic in all of life.
You should be an Episcopalian if you are serious about hearing and learning about the Word of God. If you attend Episcopal worship regularly, you will hear the largest part of the Bible read over a three-year cycle. Episcopalians hear lessons from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the Epistles, as well as from the Gospels. Episcopalians also bring a scholarly mind to the study of the Bible and most Episcopalians take the Bible too seriously to take it literally.
You should be an Episcopalian if you think churches should be built around the worship of God and not around the charisma of any one clergyperson. In the Episcopal Church it is God, and not the clergy, who remains the center of our focus.
You should be an Episcopalian if you believe frightening imperfect Christians with the fiery flames of hell or with crushing, unrelenting guilt is not only un-biblical, but un-Christian. This is a church where the grace of God trumps the wrath of God and this is a church where God’s love has the power to redeem any and every one.”
In this Epiphany season and for all of the coming year, let us rejoice in our Episcopal tradition and let us not forget to invite others to come and see.