Unexpectedly, I met a crooked man. He was looking back at me in the bathroom mirror!
For years I have been telling people that I have one leg that is two inches longer than the other. It turns out that I was wrong, instead I have been a crooked man.
The last few years I have had back issues but recently it got so debilitating that I went to a chiropractor to get a look at it. It turns out that my ilium (the bones you sit on) have long been out of line. In a matter of moments he had them back in line. I had to return several times over the next ten days because my muscles wanted to return things to the bad old ‘normal’.
The alignment was quite easy but there was quite a bit of pain as my back muscles and then my leg muscles stretched and got used to my new found health.
I wondered why, if I had been misaligned for years was I only suffering now. The reason is that I have, over the years (and particularly since my fall) lost a lot of core strength which I used to mask the deformity.
I don’t share this to get sympathy but because I think it is allegorical both for my spiritual life and the life of the church. With greater self-awareness and self-care I could have enjoyed health much sooner. Self-examination is an important spiritual discipline. I can check my state of health in light of God’s word in God’s presence. I can deal with issues before they become chronic … before they become entrenched. The actual problem can be quickly sorted forgiveness and healing may freely flow from a gracious God but if I have allowed crookedness to become habitual the recovery is likely to be more painful.
I did not recognize my crookedness and crookedness became normal. Is this not the story of the church in the West? Even as we recognize that things are not right we have difficulty realising our own true state. We compare ourselves to others but in a crooked and perverse generation to whom shall we look?
I remember, when I was a boy, helping my dad replace rotting boards on our back porch. He picked up a two X four, held it up and closing one eye sited up the board. When I asked what he was doing he told me he was making sure it was straight. Since then I learned that the reason this worked for my dad was because light was straight! He couldn’t compare it with other crooked boards only the light could truly reveal its straightness.
Here in Epiphany we celebrate the Light which has come. Celebrating the Light without measuring ourselves and our health against the Light , is to fall short of true appreciation of the glory of Epiphany.