January Journal, Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

January is the month of Life conquering Death. It begins with resolutions to change, to be better, to do this, to not do that. For some it is a “dry month,” purging alcohol toxins from the system and hopefully purging bad habits as well. We all want to live, not die, to savor every minute of the life we have been given. We have emerged from a time of holiday gatherings and festivities, of giving and receiving, of singing to the baby in the manger, “silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright…” We have considered the miracle and mystery of Christmas, God incarnate, come to save us from ourselves.

And so in January we are ready to save us from ourselves with resolutions to be better in some way. Christians do this weekly, with confession and repentance, or even hourly, saying to Our Lord, “Forgive me for that, forgive me for this, forgive me… I am sorry.” Whether once a year or once a day, we innately know we are under judgment in some way; we innately know we are sick and need healing. Our souls need saving.

As I putter along with my novel-in-progress, The Music of the Mountain, my decision to set it in January 2023 has produced some interesting discoveries about this month in our present day. The Feast of Epiphany led me to light and dark, vision, seeing, knowing. That the January 6 protest in Washington D.C. was on this day has struck me with some force since the event happened. Coincidence? Don’t know. I try to look at all sides, and make up my own mind about truth and lies. This rally, to my mind, was a demand to delay the counting of the electoral votes until further investigation could be made. It was not an effort to overturn the election, but to question certain electors and to re-certify them to everyone’s satisfaction. There appears to be clear evidence there were FBI instigators in the crowd, urging them on. No protestors used firearms, and the only death was one of the protesters at the hands of the police (will there be justice for Ashley Babbitt?). Nothing burned down. One thing for sure, these rather foolhardy trespassers wanted more light shed on what happened over the previous year 2020 in terms of the election. Numerous irregularities needed bright sunlight. News stories were buried that needed to be aired in the light of day. Questions needed answers. We are still unraveling what happened, two/three years later.

January 6 and the light of Epiphany – the desire to see reality for what it is – coincided with this march on Congress by citizens who desired to shine light on their beloved country. 

This year, Epiphany fell in the midst of rainstorms and flooding here in Northern California. Power outages from fallen trees left us in the dark for days in cold temperatures without heat, light, and without warning. The storms darkened the skies through the 15th, and we began to see sunlight once again. 

Soon we were recalling the fiftieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade – January 22, 1973, when the Supreme Court federalized the right to abortion, overturned in October 2022, and given to the States to decide. As of now it is thought that 11,000 babies have lived that would not have lived since this 2022 decision. Life won over death. But the tragedy continues, as State by State work to settle the question, when does life begin? Science says conception. Death says whenever you want, you decide. 

And so folks marched for Life in Washington D.C. on Friday, in San Francisco on Saturday (crowd estimated at 30,000), and in cities across the country over the weekend. Sunday the 22nd was the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, coinciding with the Third Sunday in Epiphanytide, recalling Jesus’ first miracle, turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana, a moment when Christ celebrates marriage and the joy of family and friends, and of course, children.

This weekend of Life was soon overshadowed by a week of mass shootings in California. On Saturday the 21st, eleven were killed in a dance hall in Monterey Park in Southern California. On Monday the 23rd seven were injured and one died in a mass shooting in Half Moon Bay in Northern California. There was a mass shooting in Oakland as well.

As we moved through the week, mourning the many murdered, the skies dried and an icy wind cleared the air, culminating in Friday the 27th, the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. I was stunned when I realized this fell in this same month, a week after the Roe v. Wade anniversary. The two holocausts remembered within a week. In January.

The Jewish Holocaust remembrance – January 27 – recalled the freeing of Auschwitz by Soviet troops on this day. In all, some 1.1 million people were killed in this concentration camp in Poland. Friday, January 27, 2023 was the 78th anniversary, a commemoration established by the United Nations in 2005.

These twin horrors – holocausts – must not be forgotten: the children lost through abortion (2 million a year in the U.S. since 1973) and the genocide of six million Jews, five million Slavs, three million ethnic Poles, two hundred thousand Romani, two hundred fifty thousand mentally and physically disabled people, and nine thousand homosexual men by the Nazi regime.

I was reminded of this anniversary by my friends in Kentucky who run Nazareth House Apostolate, a retreat and prayer center. Vicki and Father Seraphim Hicks send a daily prayer email that includes significant meditations on our times. Vicki quotes the author and survivor Elie Wiesel who describes Holocaust survivors as those who had “emerged from the Kingdom of Night. We know that every moment is a moment of grace, every hour an offering, and not to share them would mean to betray [the dead].”

We must never forget all holocausts – the genocide of babies and the genocides of peoples. In my novels, I try and include not only immigrant stories, but survivors of genocide. We must not forget.

Being absorbed by these events over the last few weeks, I failed to remember one last commemoration in January, one that captures my heart, for January 28 was the fiftieth anniversary of the Denver consecrations. After leaving the Episcopal Church for matters of faith and practice, some would say heresy, four bishops were consecrated in Denver, Colorado in 1978. This event solidified the foundation of the Anglican Province of Christ the King. Our Bishop Morse of blessed memory was consecrated bishop with three others, thus ensuring the apostolic line of the episcopacy for our Anglican province. We have traveled a long road together through the decades since 1978 and have been blessed to speak truth to lies, love to hate, bringing many into the ark of the Church and her promise of life eternal.

And so this month of January 2023 has been full of light and dark, in great need of more epiphanies, in great need of Christ’s light in the darkness. We see why he came to us as a baby in a manger-cave outside Bethlehem, why we celebrate him in all we do, for he brings the light of truth, the light of love, and the light of life into our tragic world. He truly saves us in our Time for all Eternity.

And of course this is the music of the mountain, a tune that calls us all to love, light, and life eternal.

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