Our good minister's sermon on Epiphany last Sunday came as a reminder to my husband Jim and me that it is about time that ourChristmas tree relinquishes it's habitual space behind the easy chair in our living room.
Our long-loved decorations have been gracing its boughs long enough, and will now be gently but reluctantly "put to bed" in their respective slots in the box. We are behind because during the last week of advent Jim received the blessing of a renewed and healthier heart at Yale New Haven Hospital. Somehow during the distracting urgency and ultimate joy of it all, Advent and Christmas became a little displaced, bumped back a week on our personal calendars.
No matter; Jesus' birth, His ministry, and His resurrection are together timeless and timely. He is our eternal Guide and Savior, yet He comes to us, often unexpectedly at any given moment, in the form of His veryown miracles.
The miracle of the loaves and fishes is replayed over and again in our humble soup kitchens. Thanksgiving though Christmas has always been our most blessed time of donations at the Kitchens. Just one year ago Dorothy Day Hospitality House was happily reeling over the business of allocating and shelving our gifts when our furnace backed up, leaving us cloaked in soot, ruined stables and materials. We were forced to close our doors for the first time in our history. Without a painful break in stride a neighborhood church welcomed our guests, our stores were replenished once again by an incredibly generous community, and our hearts and our shelves were filled to capacity. Daily our prayers are answered by an "angel" bearing a salad, a turkey or ham, a can of just what was needed. Often our needs are met before a prayer has formed on our lips! Our forbearance in service is continuously rewarded with the miraculous appearance of helping hands.
I have not heard of anyone recently walking on water, but the miracle of succeeding against all odds is a daily reality. Faithfulness under duress and oppression is vividly made clear in the Church remaining alive in what was once the Soviet Union. It is more often witnessed in the faithfulness of long-suffering people despite their griefs or infirmities. The miracle of goodness and kindness active and alive in the midst of worldliness is witnessed by neighbors helping neighbors, and strangers helping strangers, making them strangers no more. The supreme and difficult act of forgiveness is perhaps the greatest miracle of all. That instant of letting go, that peace, must surely be a moment of Grace.
Jesus' miracles of healing were never ER more present than during that week-end my daughter Ann-Michele and I spent in the cardio-thoracic intensive care unit waiting room at Yale New Haven Hospital. Five families came together and were bonded by prayer for one another, sharing both the joys and the sorrow. Our Lord's healing came through in the daily miracles performed through the gifts of those surgeons and caregivers.
I keep leading myself to the miracle of prayer, the incredibly wonderful communication between man and his Creator, all thanks, al intervention, all contemplation capable through our previous Lord Jesus. He comes to us again and again to lift us, listen to us, intervene for us, bearing the gift of listening and hearing, the gift of eternal forgiveness, and blessing us in ways that cannot yet be imagined.
I am hoping that this year's celebration of Epiphany will bring a most joyful and active ministry to all that the Holy Spirit will shine on us and descend "like a dove" to illuminate the way to the fruits of the spirit. May we be blessed with the patience, forbearance, and long-suffering of Advent, the joy, peace, generosity and wonder of Christmas, the clear vision of the Holy Trinity, and the reaffirmation of our various ministries in this season of Epiphany, the love, gentleness and forgiveness, the blessed miracle of the Grace of our Father through Jesus at Easter. May we witness and perform His miracles time and time again throughout each day and this entire year.
Diane Vuillequez is a member of the Bridgewater Congregational Church, a volunteer coordinator at Loaves and Fishes in New Milford and at Dorothy Day Hospitality House in Danbury.