The Old Testament and gospel readings for Epiphany
function as point and counterpoint. Isaiah offers a word of great comfort to
those who have been so long in darkness. Impoverished as the hearers have been,
honor and fortune are on their way. It's a message of rejoicing: the light that
has dawned will make all who see it radiant.
Some years ago, when I was in my first pastoral appointment, I met an 11-year-old named Victor at youth court. A friend had asked me to serve as translator for Victor's father, who spoke only Spanish, because Victor was about to be tried for shooting a child in the leg with a BB gun. Violence and trouble were part of life in Victor's neighborhood.
On the night of the shootings in Dallas that killed five police officers, Michael Waters and Omar Suleiman had known each other barely a year. Waters is pastor of the Joy Tabernacle AME Church; Suleiman is a nationally known Muslim scholar and one of two imams at the Valley Ranch Islamic Center. Both were at the rally in Dallas protesting the police shootings of black men when a gunman started shooting. Together with some parishioners, the two found refuge at Waters’s church, where they spent the night praying and wondering what they could do to stop violence rather than just react to it. They agreed on one thing: though of different religions and ethnicities, they are brothers (Washington Post, July 10).