What's Tony Thinking

Unexpected Epiphany


Today, January 6, is for Christians the Feast of Epiphany.

It’s also been a year since the riot/ attack on the U.S. Capitol and Congress as the latter was trying to certify the results of the last Presidential election.

Do those two go together at all? Well, yes. Here’s how.

For a long time we dwelt mostly on the bright side of Epiphany. We made it into a G-rated Disney story. The star, the wise men from the east, the camels silhouetted against the night sky, the arrival at the star-lit manger, beautiful Mary, humble Joseph, the gifts. It was sweet, with a tang of exotic. And a sign that Christ was not just for some chosen few, but for everyone. Great.

But that was never the whole story. When the light shines bright, there are always shadows. In the shadows a phony king, Herod, lied about his intentions to the wise guys: “Go and find this newborn king so that I too may go and worship him.” Herod was so threatened by Jesus that he had his troops go on a rampage to eliminate  the competition. Jesus and his family became refugees, fleeing to Egypt.

Sound vaguely familiar?

The hallmark of the Trumpist operation is that it calls good bad and bad good. It calls decency indecent. It calls indecency righteous. It calls truth lies, and the lies truth. It calls attacks on the rule of law patriotism. It professes religious devotion as a cover for self-interest and manipulation.

Luther had a name for this. He called it a theology of glory. Under the guise of glorifying God, it was about humans glorifying themselves. It’s an addiction, the more you get, the more you want. It can’t be satisfied. There’s no reasoning with an addiction.

Christianity is not a theology of glory. It is a theology of the cross. It is not a tissue of lies, a use of God to further one’s power and ego. It is a death, the death of the self-centered self, not a vehicle for it. “The thirst for glory is not ended,” wrote Luther, “by satisfying it but rather by extinguishing it.”

So Epiphany, a moment of sudden revelation or insight. That’s also what I would call the January 6 attack. The truth revealed, stark, naked. Right there. Seeking power at whatever the cost. Calling the truth, lies; the lies truth. “Stop the steal.”

But Epiphany is more. It is the birth of different king, a baby king, a peasant king, a true king. A king not made so by troops and violence, but by star and stranger, by creation’s testimony and Scripture’s truth. This truth shall prevail. Christ, not Trump, is Lord.

Happy Epiphany.




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