Welcome to the fourth annual WALKING EPIPHANY series of guest posts! This post was originally published in January 2017.
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
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
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.
A few WALKING EPIPHANY guest posts from previous years:
(You can find weekly devotional posts for Epiphany 2018 here.)