Today is Epiphany, or The Twelfth Day of Christmas. It is the day Christian Tradition marks the arrival of the Magi (or Three Kings or Wisemen) who were following the star of Bethlehem to see the baby King Jesus. For many around the globe the Christmas Season is celebrated during the 12 Days from Christmas Eve through Epiphany making this day the official end to the holiday festivities.
So, Christmas is finally a wrap, put away for another year. However our hearts are not so easily boxed up and stored away as the decorations and ornaments of the season were yesterday at Good Hope Farm. Because yesterday was also a very special occasion! Our second resident celebrated her 1 year Clean & Sober anniversary; her FREEDOM & HOPE anniversary!! Next month will be her 1 year anniversary with us as a member of the Rest Stop Community!!
To mark these milestones, she chose to share her life story with all her sisters. We were so honored by the sacred privilege to sit with her and listen. We wept together and laughed together. We marveled at the miracle of her life! The obstacles she has overcome to be the strong, gifted, amazing woman she is today are many! She has moved from Survivor to Thriver!! Her future is bright with promise!
She told of the spiritual epiphany she had one day while sitting alone in a hotel room so tired and broken in body and spirit. She experienced a sudden and striking realization that this was not who she was! She was enabled to seek the help that day that eventually led her to Rest Stop.
We all had many epiphanies while hearing her story...moments of striking realization about the work that we do. The nature of an epiphany is that it comes almost as a surprise revelation...one you cannot really anticipate or predict. However, it is usually the reward of a long process of intentional thinking or being or doing...a long obedience in the same direction; it's just that you cannot predict that moment when your labor will bear fruit...and the beauty of bearing witness to it!
That's what happened to the Magi and why they bowed in Worship when the long journey of obedience finally brought them suddenly into the company of that which they sought. We bowed in worship yesterday...we saw with our own eyes and heard with our own ears that which we sought...a life transformed by the grace, glory and goodness of the living Christ Jesus. Our resident gave credit to God her Saviour, and so shall we!!
Allow me one more significant Christmas memory before we let it go! It also served as a major epiphany for us. It is another story of special visitors...like the visiting Magi...and just as divine!
Our Rest Stop community was blessed by a visit from a special group of intellectually challenged adults, the Agape Class from the Community Bible Study in Hermitage-Old Hickory. The members had used their own monies raised by earning rewards throughout the year for attendance, bible memory, etc. to purchase Christmas gifts for all the women at Good Hope Farm. When they delivered the gifts their leaders had also arranged for us to share a special time of devotion together reading the Christmas Story and singing carols accompanied by special musicians on the guitar and violin. This video is a glimpse into the magical moments of worship we shared together.
I cannot adequately explain how breathtakingly beautiful the exchange of love was in that room! Two disenfranchised groups of strangers bonding almost instantaneously as they began to truly SEE one another and marvel at the light, joy, beauty within each unique child of God. Our guests were lavish with their gifts...especially their gifts of hugs, prayers, blessings, laughter, and "I love yous" so eagerly and readily shared without hesitation or reservation. Our residents RECEIVED so graciously and humbly, obviously MOVED by the authentic, child-like faith and love gushing forth from our guests. EVERYONE present in that room that day agreed that CHRISTMAS CAME IN OUR HEARTS during those shared moments of pure innocent love. One of the Agape class members spontaneously expressed that we should make this an annual tradition!! We all quickly agreed! A special relationship was born that day.
After our guests left, our residents reflected. "We have the hope of our situation being temporary; we can change, but their circumstances are permanent for life...yet what JOY they live every day!" It was a huge EPIPHANY!! Hope comes in many ways, and hoping for changed circumstances is one way. However, the greatest form of hope is that Hope that was born in the manger that Silent Night we sang about together. If we put our trust in THIS hope, it is a hope that does not disappoint because it is not dependent on circumstances. It is an internal and eternal hope that gets us through ALL situations.