I was an ordinary housewife, living in a suburb outside of Chicago with three children and one husband, one dog and a life plan that was not exactly written in stone--but surely organized and ready to be put into place.
In other words, I had figured life out and was satisfied with my well-considered plans. Life was good and I was confident that all would be well and all I had to do was to follow “the unwritten plan”. It was good to know the future would cooperate while the present unfolded.
Enter God and a neighborhood coffee and my plan exited--never to return. And my life became a testimony to this surprising and amazing reality that God’s other name is always “surprise”. Our puny efforts at controlling our lives are child’s play compared to the wonder and power of God in the world.
God in Action
But first let me tell you the story so you can judge for yourself.
One day I accepted a neighbor’s invitation to come over for coffee. I hadn’t met this particular neighbor so I looked forward to a new acquaintance. I rang the doorbell and waited for a response. When the door opened, a man stood in the doorway and said, “I have two pianos…one is a baby grand and the other is an upright with a beautiful tone.” He proceeded to describe both pianos in detail and because I wasn’t expecting this kind of opening experience, I simply joined into the conversation with some questions about his pianos.
I wasn’t invited into the house, nor was coffee mentioned at all. An unexpected voice within me finally said, “How much is the upright?” He said, “$75.00”. And I said, “I’ll pay you $5.00 a month until it’s paid off and you pay to have it shipped to me. My house is in the next block, east of here.” We shook hands, he went back into his house and closed the door. And two days later, the piano took up residence in my dining room.
Now my life plan never included buying a piano. I had two years of piano lessons when I was five years old and then dropped from my teacher’s student population because, in her wisdom, I had no talent. I had not touched a piano in the intervening twenty-five years. Now I had an amazing upright that sounded like a concert grand piano…and a new life.
Melodies and words poured out of my heart and spirit and my newly acquired musical life led me into an entirely unexpected future of ministry and psychology…and more music and an entirely new identity.
God’s Gifts are Expressions of Love
Epiphany is a celebration of God’s Gifts which are always powerful expressions of the love of God in the world. Unexpected, un-planned-for, but rich in God’s Presence in our future. They are gifts from God to be cherished and grown within our life and spirit. They enter our lives through our modern-day wise men and wise women who help us discover who we are.
These wise men and women of today don’t wear costumes and carry elaborate gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. But they help us to acknowledge the presence and action of God in our lives by sharing the presence and gifts of God in their lives.
What gifts have you received from God in your life? When have you been surprised by God’s Presence and God’s Actions? Who has helped you to see God’s gifts in your life? Where have you discovered and experienced God and made a connection between your life and the presence and action of God in the world?
In this Epiphany season, look for God’s gifts in the world. You will recognize them by the impacts they have on each of our lives. What dreams present themselves as gifts of the future? Where do your longings take you? How do you see yourself as an agent of God’s Love and Presence in the world?
Your wisdom resides in your heart and spirit and is an integral part of who you are. Say “yes”
to that spirit within you and you will say yes to the transforming Spirit of God within each of us. That Spirit will change the world!
For Reflection (either individually or with a group)
Read the blog. Read it a second time, maybe reading it aloud or asking someone else to read it aloud so you can hear it with different intonation and emphases. Then spend some time with the questions with music, crayons, clay, wood, or anything that helps you reflect more deeply. Take these questions for a walk in the woods or in your neighborhood, for a swim or a run or for a hot soak in the tub. Invite the questions to join you for tea or coffee.
- What gifts have you received from God in your life?
- When have you been surprised by Divine Presence and Actions?
- Who has helped you to see God’s gifts in your life?
- Where have you discovered and experienced God and made a connection between your life and the presence and action of the Divine in the world?
- How do you see yourself as an agent of God’s Love and Presence in the world?
Download a pdf including the Reflection Questions to share and discuss with friends, family, or members of your faith community small group.