Notes from Jan

Epiphany and Infamy

January 14, 2021

Maybe it’s not so strange that a day of infamy happened in our country’s Capitol on January sixth. It’s the Day of the Epiphany of Jesus the Christ for many Christians. On this date we remember the Magi who brought gifts laden with meaning to honor the Christ child. Like an epiphany, it was a manifestation of who this Jesus really was.

So, what’s an epiphany? According to Webster’s dictionary:” (1): A usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something.

And what of infamy? To Webster (1): It is an evil reputation brought about by something grossly criminal, shocking or brutal.

A little over one week ago, we experienced both, an epiphany and a day of infamy. I wrestle with what to make of it. Who are we? How did we get here? What needs to change in me? in us? So, for the sake of my grandchildren, I’ll take a deep breath, while I can, and write a few observations. Feel free to eavesdrop.

I. Words and ideas hold power. Use with care. They’re capable of great good or lasting harm. There are words and ideas we say but also ones we read, watch and listen to that inform what we believe and how we live.

My grandmother taught me this truth.

“O boys flying kites, haul in their white-winged birds; but you can’t do that when you’re flying words. Once they’re spoken though you wish them gone and dead, even God can’t reel back the words you’ve said.” (or written, texted or tweeted, I add.)

My Norwegian grandfather taught me Psalm 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” He added, “Remember this, Yanice, God’s vord is a good provision. Your heart is a good place and to not sin against God is a good purpose.

II. Choices have consequences. Maybe some came to the DC to protest what they believed was a “stolen election.” They brought their kids, snacks and cellphones to record the day. But too many came prepared to do harm, to wreak vengeance on individuals, bring chaos within the Capitol and death to Democracy. But by day’s end, all folks, no matter their intentions face life-altering consequences.

III.Truth matters and character counts. So beware of following leaders who look and sound good, make promises to please you, even within the Church. To follow Jesus is not an easy path filled with privilege and power. It is a choice to be good when no one is looking and to do good because it is the right thing to do, even if you’re afraid and stand alone.

IV. Never lose hope. To experience this political nightmare in the midst of a pandemic is almost unbearable. As I was reminded in a recent sermon by Bryan Wilkerson from Grace Chapel, “Disappointment is the gap between expectation and reality.” The kindest word to use when looking at the country, politics, the pandemic and sometimes ourselves is disappointed.

But Bryan went on to quote Martin Luther King Jr. “We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.” It matters where we place our hope. As for me, “I wait patiently for God , for my hope is in him.”(Psalm 62:5, NLT)

Well, it’s past my bedtime so I’ll close with words God spoke to Joshua when he was scared. They often help your grandmother when I feel alone or afraid to stand up for what’s right, or to accept or speak truth.

Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”(Joshua 1:9b, NLT)

Love always,

That’s both God’s command and my heart’s intent towards you.

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13 Comments

  • Reply Valerie McCoy January 14, 2021 at 11:59 pm

    I was just on my way to bed too….and then the gentle ‘ping’ of a message on my phone.
    So glad it was you. It’s good to have loved ones in the dark of night, especially as I was weeping for our country, for humanity, for all hope that ‘seems’ lost. And then your written word, like a cool drink of water.
    I can rest now…..thank you.
    I pray YOUR sleep is of healing thoughts that “grace bats last.” (Ann Lamott).
    You are a treasure

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 15, 2021 at 11:36 am

      Thank you, dear Valerie. I love that quote from Ann Lamott but I love you more and appreciate your response to one small “ping.” This is a time to pray for our nation, its leaders and for ourselves.

  • Reply Kristy Douglas January 15, 2021 at 9:30 am

    Dear Jan,
    You are right, words do matter… sometimes they are the difference between life and death. As President elect Biden has said when asked about whether he supports partial-birth abortion or late-term abortion he said ”I did and I do”. Very bad policy, in my view. And I will always vote my conscience and for policies that represent my beliefs, not for a man.

    The majority of Conservative voters (almost 1/2 of America) had nothing to do with this horrible act of violence at our Capital. No excuses for that attack. It breaks my heart that people’s Conservative voices are already being silenced and made to feel “wrong” or “ashamed’ for their beliefs. We should be extremely concerned, as Christians, about this silencing. I pray, we will allow all voices heard… whether we agree with that voice or not.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 15, 2021 at 12:17 pm

      Very dear, Kristy, thank you so much for taking the time to read the post and to express your views. You and I both identify ourselves as Christians. While we may hold different views politically, socially and theologically, I’m hopeful we can stay at the table together to pray, talk and listen to each other.

      While we both decry “the horrible act of violence at the Capitol”, my heart is more broken over those who perpetuate the lie of a stolen election and the silencing of the cries of the poor. and the hungry for just mercy. However, I hear your fears about shaming, cancel culture and silencing. The ACLU will likely work to uphold your concerns on the silencing of some voices. We need Conservatives, Liberals, Independents and moderates in government. I am an Independent. (Just ask Jud) But as a Christian and a grandmother, I know no political system or politician can do what we, the people, can do through our votes and daily choices in words and deeds. Respect, justice, generosity, kindness , gratitude and truth don’t show up on any ballot. It is up to principled citizens and people of faith to “vote”these values into our culture. by what we say and how we act towards each other. We are not enemies, as much as we may disagree on issues. Sometimes it’s only a few small threads that keep a fabric, a family or a nation from totally unraveling. Lets be those threads, Kristy. Love always, Jan P.S. Please say hello to Jeff for me.

  • Reply Caroline B Stogrin January 15, 2021 at 11:46 am

    Thank you! We can’t hear enough words encouraging us to trust in God in these troubled times! Our only hope is in Him!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 15, 2021 at 12:20 pm

      Thank you, dear Caroline, for your encouragement. As my sister-in-love, Chris, says through a small cross-stitched sampler, “We are Hope-ers.”

  • Reply Jan Carlberg January 15, 2021 at 6:32 pm

    Thank you, dear Eric, for sending this fact check. We pick up a lot of misinformation and need people who help us get the truth. I’m grateful you took the time to read the post and respond with facts.

  • Reply John and Lilian Dunlop January 15, 2021 at 6:52 pm

    We are reading your blog from New Zealand where the sun is shining and the government us mosty kind.
    We are recently retired teachers. We spent 2 months touring your loveky country with our teenage children in 2003.
    One of our trip highlights was a concert on the Capitol lawn on July 4th. We particularly remember Dolly Parton singing and everybody acknowledging the flag.
    We have been praying for your country for years and particularly over this last week. Maybe now christians across the country will come together in a non- political team of love and healing.
    Thankyou for your insightful faith-filled words.
    Love and peayers
    John and Lilian Dunlop

  • Reply Wendy Lane January 17, 2021 at 10:53 am

    Thank you Jan for taking the time to share these thoughts. Praying for our country. Believing God is on the throne! Love you!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 17, 2021 at 7:27 pm

      Prayer is the key to more than most of us realize. Thanks, Wendy, for using your words as prayers to the only One who really knows what’s happening in this old world.

      • Reply wendy lane January 18, 2021 at 4:41 pm

        Yes indeed! <3

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