Epiphany Reflections: Live Expectantly
Epiphany Reflections 2022
Confluence, a Center for Spirituality in the Diocese of Missouri, dedicated to providing opportunities and resources for spiritual formation.
I was struck by her confession: “My children don’t know, and they wouldn’t understand. We are followers of Jesus now!”
My sweet Iraqi friend came to St. Louis as a refugee in 2014 with her husband and two children. They went to a local mosque to find community and help. They were told that they were the ‘wrong’ kind of Muslim (Sunni vs. Shia) and not welcome there.
That comment took me by surprise when I first met her in 2017 at Oasis International, a Christian refugee organization. The ‘wrong’ kind of Muslim?
“When I came to Oasis, nobody asked us what religion we belonged to,” she commented. “They just said: ‘Welcome to your new home!’”
While they brought their children up to follow the Koran, she and her husband experienced a profound new relationship with a newfound savior. During a recent family crisis, she and her husband decided to pray to Jesus. He answered her with a vision. It was a miracle! This personal intervention profoundly changed their core belief. She and her husband even attend church now but have not been able to share their new faith with their children or any other family member out of fear.
Sitting across from her when she told me this, my jaw dropped. I had two gut reactions to this confession. First, I felt pride! Jesus was actively taking part in the lives of my friend and her husband. He actually ‘showed’ up! (God, I want to have visions!)
Second, I felt humbled to have been given this very personal account. What must it be like to be unable to share your faith with your family and friends for fear of retaliation?
I felt strangely alive in her presence. Jesus showed up! He is working His beautiful miracles. Even in 2022.
I am not a cradle Episcopalian. I came to believe in God in my late teens. My parents were unchurched but had me baptized and later confirmed in the Lutheran church in Germany. One day, and I remember this event clearly, the German version of the ‘Jesus Film’ aired on TV. I was so drawn to this ‘Jesus figure’ that I confidently knew the film was depicting a real event. Not fiction.
I asked my parents to buy me a bible. They did. Little did I know Holy Scripture, let alone find answers to the million questions I had. Somehow I got hold of a copy of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. That did the trick. I was on cloud nine, knowing that God had searched for me all along. All I had to do was answer to His call and follow him.
My Iraqi friend had a very similar experience. God is still walking among us, asking us to be present and make him known. But in order to do so we ourselves have to be open to know him more deeply, and follow him more intentionally. Despite our best efforts to keep him in a preverbal box, Jesus still shows up.
Especially when we least expect it.
Sabine McDowell is a member of the Confluence Board and a member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Ladue.