C is for Combine.
What we are combining in this one issue is Epiphany and Lent. We hope Teresa of Avila won't mind. She said, There is a time for repenting and a time for partridges. We're saying, It's all one time. Partridges induce repenting induces partridges. Epiphany anticipates Lent explains Epiphany. Gaze at The Star and see The Cross--and then The Star all over again.
The cantor at Christ Church Cathedral (Episcopal), where the following Epiphany sermon was preached, had his own reasons for preferring the quote from Teresa. His name is Partridge.
R is for Royalty.
But which kind of royalty? And where?
The other day my wife and I found ourselves driving behind a bumper-sticker which read, "Real men don't ask directions." I laughed, probably a bit nervously. Whereupon Thelda rolled her eyes and sighed, "Look who's laughing." Okay, so the joke's on men like me who cannot admit they might be lost. I do admit that the magi, by contrast -- the "astrologers," as our translation calls them -- did stop and ask directions. The thing is, does that make them so much smarter -- "wise men," as we used to call them? If they were so wise, how's come they too got lost? That, sisters and brothers, is the question before the house this morning. Why did such otherwise wise people have to ask directions in the first place?
What is worse, the astrologers did not even know they were lost. When they stopped to ask, "Where is the king of the Jews who has just been born," they assumed they were at least in the right city. They were far from it. But before we laugh we'd better be sure we're any better off.
These seekers from the east had simply taken for granted that the place to find a king is in the capital, in this case Jerusalem. Offhand, that is not an unreasonable mistake. Isn't that the way it is with kings, indeed with anyone in authority? Authority is where authority does. If you want the President you e-mail the White House. If you seek the bishop, come to the cathedral. If you want the police, dial 911. If you're looking for your mom you start by calling home or her office, where she's in charge, not somewhere where she's not in control and your call may embarrass her. Likewise if you're looking for the newborn king of the Jews, where else would you go except Jerusalem?
Indeed the astrologers had stopped depending on the star already miles ago, long before the city limits. Instead, thinking they were obviously on the homestretch, they merely followed their noses into Jerusalem. They had long since switched over to a simpler guidance system, one which says scientifically enough: kings are in kings' houses, authorities are where they are in authority.
That is what got these astrologers to the wrong city, namely, their mistaken notion of authority. It wasn't that they had misread their map or had taken a wrong turn somewhere. No. Rather, if you begin by assuming, as they did, that authority is power which someone wields over someone else, then it makes sense that you look for such authorities in seats of power.
Michael Hoy, President (513-228-5006) + Cathy Lessmann, Executive Secretary (314-576-0567)