Walking EPIPHANY: encountering Christ in a D.C. suburb

Welcome to the fourth annual WALKING EPIPHANY series of guest posts! This post was originally published in January 2017.

Glorya Jordan

Woodbridge, VA

 

I've asked a few friends who live around the world to take a walk through their neighborhoods and share some of the ways they encounter and exhibit the presence of Christ.

Glorya and I grew up in the same church in central New York state. I'm enough older for Brian and me to have enjoyed a short stint as her youth leaders. We've reconnected recently and shared frustrations with our country's conversation about race and justice. I'm so grateful for her grace toward me. As a former youth leader, I hope it's okay to say I am so proud of the woman Glorya has become, and I wish I could have heard her Neighborhood Honor Contract idea when my kids were younger! (see below)

 Before we hear from Glorya, here's a brief summary of Epiphany, in case you're not sure.

What is Epiphany?

 Throughout the daily readings in the Epiphany lectionary, we follow the early life and ministry of Jesus as He is revealed as the Son of God, appearing as light to a dark world. He is the very God shining forth, manifesting the glory of God. Oftentimes the accounts are private affairs (Transfiguration), other times public (Wedding at Cana, Baptism).  All of them take place, though, in the places Jesus lived and worked, within the context of his relationships of family, friends, and followers -- the sick, possessed, poor, celebrating, drinking, seeking, religious, fearful, apathetic, discouraged neighbors.  

Walking EPIPHANY blog series

Each of the friends contributing to the series this year has selected from a variety of thoughtful prompts (collected from my subscription to these excellent daily readings) to consider the ways the Light has moved into their neighborhoods. 

Will you join us?

p.s., Don't miss the opportunity to engage with thought-provoking questions for your own neighborhood, listed following each prompt.


 

 

Well, my neighborhood is literally made up of people from places outside of the USA. If we were honest, other than Native Americans, everyone in America is a foreigner. I live in Northern Virginia outside of our Nation's Capitol in Woodbridge, VA, where 60% of our county is made up of minorities. My neighborhood, Winding Creek Estates, is very diverse in religion, culture, and race. This car full of women is a beautiful picture of my friends. What does an Asian, Indian, and African-American woman have in common with each other? Not religion; one is a Christian, another Hindu, and another agnostic. Not politics; one is conservative, another liberal, another Independent, and another indifferent. Not occupation; two teachers, one in medicine, and another in finance/IT. So why do we love to spend time together? Because we value each other, we listen and support one another, we learn and grow from each other, we laugh and cry together. Do we agree on all things? Obviously not. But we value each other as people, as women, as mothers, as wives, as whatever various roles we happen to have. I have learned and grown more with these incredible women than I have in my many years in college. I love my neighborhood and the diversity it cultivates. None of us are foreigners, all of us are neighbors and friends.

 

Prompt: Foreigners as Neighbors

In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants. Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected. For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation. Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present. Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past. We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us. Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best. I am confident that we can do this.

Pope Francis, from "Pope Francis' Address to Congress" on Sep. 24, 2015

How does your neighborhood embrace foreigners? Are there organizations set up specifically for that purpose? What other signs of “immigrant” culture can you find in your neighborhood?

 

 

Our neighborhood is full of many different people, cultures, backgrounds, and religions. We seek to be "in the world but not of the world" by being the home for the "world" to come to. Our grass is not the greenest or best manicured but our home is a safe place to play and be. The boys play a lot of football and basketball. All the kids enjoy the trampoline and the climb on toy. My husband plays with the kids and shows them kindness while they have fun. They all know that bullying, foul language, and disrespect will NOT be tolerated at our house. I actually have the neighborhood kids sign an "Honor Contract". Honor is defined as, "Treating others as special, doing more than what is expected, and having a good attitude." If anyone fails to show honor the other kids can call them on it. If I come outside and hear something inappropriate they will have 1 warning and the next time they have to go home for the rest of the day. At first thought it may sound extreme and not very Christlike, but they actually all appreciate the standard and know they are valued at our home. They know we are different because we are Christians and we seek to be the kind of Christian who makes the lives of others around us, better.

 

Prompt: Salt & Light

The way of being salt and light is a role (a part and position) that Christians are called to in the world.  It is a role that requires us to take up a place in our world, at work, at school, and in the neighborhood.  Christians are called to imagine another world, and to do so by living amid the divisiveness, alienation, suffering, and violence, as well as the good things, the loves and hopes of where we live now.... However, we are called to make a home that is not established on our own authority and perfection, but instead is set on the foundation of repentance, forgiveness, mutual care and correction, and reconciliation.

David Matzko McCarthy, The Good Life

In what ways have you been or do you hope to be salt and light in your neighborhood?
 
Glorya Taylor Jordan, RN BSN CCRN, is an adoptive parent from the foster care system and mother of four. She is an open heart nurse by trade but currently holds the title of CEO of Jordan Family Incorporated (stay at home mom). Glorya sometimes homeschools, serves on the board for CareNet Pregnancy Centers, and, along with her husband, DJ Jordan, volunteers in their church and community to promote justice to those in need --whether it be women in crisis, foster care, homelessness, restoring fathers and families, or addressing social concerns in their local community.

image: Trampolines by Brian Kershisnik (source)  

image: Trampolines by Brian Kershisnik (source)

 


(You can find weekly devotional posts for Epiphany 2018 here.)

Epiphany, 2: Can anything good come out of [your city]?

A weekly Epiphany devotional post for these 5 weeks of witness. Join us!

I fell into a bit of a post-Christmas rabbit hole and missed out on two of my favorite liturgical dates on the calendar - the Adoration of the Magi and the Baptism of Christ. Still, there's so much richness in this season, and I'm looking forward to getting back into the rhythms looking, listening, praying, and doing acts of spiritual practice each day. You can read here for a brief description of the liturgical season of Epiphany, and see previous Epiphany daybook 2017 posts here

Blessed Epiphany, friends!

*Note: If you're reading this in email, the formatting usually looks much better at the website. Just click the post title to get there.*


The call of Philip and Nathanael - a modern icon

The call of Philip and Nathanael - a modern icon


Music for this week: "Kingdom Land (I'm on My Way)", Alex Mejias (lyrics)

Spotify | YouTube

 

A playlist for the week on Spotify - Epiphany: Come, follow


The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.
— John 1:43-51 (ESV)

Daily office lectionary readings for this week:

* Sunday Scripture readings are taken from the Revised Common Lectionary (Year B). Daily Scripture readings are taken from the Book of Common Prayer (Year 2).


Prayer for this week:

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
— Book of Common Prayer

Epiphany 3. prayer walk.png

This week walk through the neighborhood where you live, work or worship. Pray the collect for this week (above), and ask God to open your eyes to the people and places He's asking you to proclaim the Good News of His salvation. Ask a friend to pray for you to answer readily to what the Spirit reveals to you during your prayer.

Don't miss the special Epiphany blog series where friends of mine from around the world, take us on a virtual walk through their own neighborhoods.


(see all Epiphany posts from 2017 here)

Christmas Daybook, 12: Eve of Epiphany

Welcome to my final Christmas daybook post for these last 12 days of celebrating. We've been (somewhat sporadically) spending Christmastide with some favorite short films and video clips. What's been your favorite? I'd love to hear about it in the comments section!

An antiquities dealer in Bethlehem shows a traditional container for myrrh, one of the three gifts the Magi brought to Jesus. (screenshot from following video)

An antiquities dealer in Bethlehem shows a traditional container for myrrh, one of the three gifts the Magi brought to Jesus. (screenshot from following video)

 

O Little Town of Bethlehem from Tim Parsons on Vimeo.

The story of the birth of Jesus told by the people of Bethlehem.

We've arrived at Twelfth Night, the culmination of grand festival of Christmastide. I hope your days have been warm, full, and lighthearted. For those of you who've been unable, because of difficulties, to celebrate in that way this year may you know even more deeply the presence of Emmanuel, King Jesus.

Peace be upon you and yours today and into the season of Epiphany light!


Readings for today: Isaiah 66:18-23, Psalm 29, Romans 15:7-13

Prayer for today: 

God of revelation, as we gather in praise for the gracious mystery of your Son, we remember the many needs of your church and your world.

Offer prayers for your community, church, and the world, concluding with:

Guide us on the path of salvation, O God, that the radiance and power of your Holy Spirit working in the world will gather together all peoples and nations in one community to offer you worship and proclaim your splendor. Amen.
— lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/prayers

 

Listen to T.S. Eliot's "Journey of the Magi", or read it here.


(See all Christmas Daybook posts from 2016 here.)

Christmas Daybook, 10: Savor light

Welcome to my Christmas daybook for these 12 days of celebrating. We'll be spending Christmastide with some favorite short films and video clips. Join me, won't you? 

 

Bruce Munro - Light Shower installation at Salisbury Cathedral

I highly encourage you to dive deeply into artist Bruce Munro's works at his website

In Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God, writer Bobby Gross refers to the seasons of Advent, Christmastide, and Epiphany as the cycle of light (with Lent - Pentecost, the cycle of life). Living out this cycle in the dark winter of the northern hemisphere benefits body, mind, and spirit, individually and as a community. 

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:1-5)

All readings for today: 1 Kings 19:9-18, Psalm 68, Ephesians 4:17-32, John 6:15-27

Prayer for today:

Light of life, you came in flesh, born into human pain and joy, and gave us power to be your children. Grant us faith, O Christ, to see your presence among us, so that all of creation may sing new songs of gladness and walk in the way of peace. Amen.
— lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/prayers

Observing stars and super moons last December at Grace Farms, New Canaan CT

Observing stars and super moons last December at Grace Farms, New Canaan CT

Follow light like the journeying magi.  

{an excerpt from my post 12 Ways To Savor the 12 Days of Christmas

Find every possible way to savor the beauty of light during the darkest time of the year.  Light candles, build a fire, sit in the dark and look at your lit tree, visit a holiday light show in town, take a bath by candlelight, go outside and look at the stars.

(read more here)


(See all Christmas Daybook posts from 2016 here.)

Christmas Daybook, 9: Savor winter beauty

Welcome to my Christmas daybook for these 12 days of celebrating. We'll be spending Christmastide with some favorite short films and video clips. Join me, won't you? 

Screen Shot 2018-01-02 at 8.03.44 AM.png
 
 

Trying To Save The Red Crowned Cranes Of Japan - Wild Japan - BBC  & Hitch a Ride with Reindeer Herders | National Geographic

Brrrrr.....

Where you live, too? Even our friends in Austin got snow twice this winter already! 

This is the time to savor the beauty unique to cold and snow. While I have no aspirations to be a reindeer herder in Finland or a farmer helping cranes live through winter in cold Japan, I love knowing about those who do. I applaud their heartiness, and hope I can think about them instead of complaining about the cold. There is an austere beauty in the frigid, and these are just two small, amazing examples.

May you enjoy something cozy on this ninth day of Christmas, friends.


All readings for today: 1 Kings 19:1-8, Psalm 34, Ephesians 4:1-16, John 6:1-14

Prayer for today from Evening Prayers For Every Day of the Year by Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt:

O taste and see that the Lord is good! Happy is the man who takes refuge in him! Psalm 34:8, RSV

Dear Father in heaven, we come to you. With thanks we come to you, for again and again you have helped us. Again and again you have let your light shine out on us so that we could be glad and know that our lives are in your hands. Protect us on this earth, where it is so necessary. Protect us, that the light of true life may shine more and more brightly and we may praise your name with our whole heart. Be with us this night, O God, and touch our hearts with your Spirit. Amen.
— Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

9.pablo.savor warmth.png

Savor warmth

I'm guessing many of you are back to work, maybe even school, today? Here's something to look forward to when you get back home snug and sound.

We keep a hot cocoa "station" up throughout December and January (well, sometimes February, too!). During the early days of Christmastide we tend to enjoy all the special delicacies that the cocoa takes a back seat. Today's a good day to enjoy again the simple pleasure of a mug of hot cocoa and your favorite add-ons (marshmallows, whipped cream, candy canes, schnapps, etc.) Bonus points for all those who actually venture outside before enjoying the hot beverage.

You may also want to invite along some friends. I love this idea shared at Like Mother, Like Daughter -  Modest Hospitality: A Hot Cocoa Party


(See all Christmas Daybook posts from 2016 here.)