“All kings shall bow down before him, and all the nations do him service. For he shall deliver the poor who cries out in distress, and the oppressed who has no helper. He shall have pity on the lowly and poor; he shall preserve the lives of the needy.” ~ Psalm 72:11-13
Dear People of St. David’s,
Yesterday, January 6, we remember two anniversaries. In our church calendar it is the Feast of the Epiphany, where we celebrate that God’s Messiah, Jesus Christ, was made visible to all the peoples of the earth. Yet, our church celebrations do not happen separated from our earthly time.
It feels a little like an elephant in the room to not name that January 6 is the one-year anniversary of the insurrection at the US Capitol. Last year, and throughout the entire pandemic, it feels like there have been several epiphanies, revealings or uncoverings, and not all of these are positive. The epiphany of a new Jewish king was not an epiphany Herod was excited about. Herod did not want to bow down to a new king. Many people found that last year’s incident of armed rioters trying to take down the American government was an epiphany about the true state of the health of the American nation. An unwelcome epiphany. How quickly our lives can be overturned by a virus.
Yet, epiphanies are an opportunity to turn to repentance and change. Every turn of the church year we ponder anew what it means for Jesus to be revealed as Messiah, Lord, and king over all the earth. We look at how this epiphany of Jesus as Lord of all can branch out into the rest of our lives and communities.
Epiphany, both in the focus on Magi coming to worship and honor baby Jesus and reflection on January 6, 2021, share a common core. Who is the right ruler? Who deserves to be king? For the beginning of time, all throughout Scripture, in our current political system, we keep circling around what makes a human ruler worth following. What makes a good society and how do we follow God’s desires for humankind?
Psalm 72 is assigned for the Feast of the Epiphany because this beautiful psalm illuminates our persistent question. Other nations come to Jerusalem and give honor to the king because of how he pursues justice. God calls a ruler—and all of us—to be a different kind of ruler than what the world often promotes: God is looking for a ruler’s treatment of the poor and needy, governing with justice and righteousness. Jesus is the only ruler who manages to truly live into this call, but it’s still a call for us to emulate.
Dr. Beth Tanner, in her commentary on Psalm 72 on the excellent site WorkingPreacher.org concluded, “the intent of the psalm does not end with King Jesus but stands as a call to all of God‘s people. Ours is not a religion focused only in the spiritual realm, but in the flesh and blood world. It is political because it is our duty to help the weakest among us and to assure a just society and nation.”
Finally, I’d like to conclude with the words from Frank’s Letter from the Rector last year, the day after Epiphany. His words, like all epiphanies, hold true a year later and give us a way forward into this new year. Frank wrote:
“So in this New Year and in this time of heartbreak and confusion, I invite all of us to remember that nothing is too hard for God. God can and will do all things God intends. It begins with God empowering you and me to walk in the Way of Love through our thoughts, our words, and our deeds. It begins with you and me as we invite the power of God into our lives each day and each moment that we can so that the loving, gracious, kind, caring, understanding, merciful power of God can work in us and through us for our lives, for St. David’s, and for the life of the world.”
Come, Lord Jesus, give us the grace to make you truly the Lord of all. Be our only right king and give us the strength to live in such a way that you are made manifest to all the earth.
The Rev. Emily Zimbrick-Rogers
 Beth L. Tanner, “Commentary on Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14,” Working Preacher, https://www.workingpreacher.org/commentaries/revised-common-lectionary/epiphany-of-our-lord/commentary-on-psalm-721-7-10-14-8