Saturday, February 14, 2015

WALKING EPIPHANY at the University of North Texas: neighborhood notes from Kendra Murphy

Welcome to a special Epiphany series of guest posts.  I've asked a few friends who live (literally) around the world to take a walk through their neighborhoods and share some of what they see through photos, videos and words.  Each one has selected from a variety of thoughtful prompts to consider the ways the Light has moved into their neighborhoods.  Will you join us?

Kendra Murphy
University of North Texas, Denton

I get to wake up to this. I love seeing the light from the sunrise through my window in the morning. It’s the first thing I see when I open my eyes. It’s a different color every day, and I love that feeling of excitement, when I wonder, “what is the sunrise going to look like today?” I love that praising God for His creation is the first thing I do each morning, and I can claim the day as the Lord’s from the very start of it. (Ignore my dirty window. Just focus on the sun shining over Denton.)

This is our library mall. (The library is to the left of the frame, outside of the picture.) This time of the morning it is quiet and peaceful. Two hours later it will be bustling with student life, and different organizations bringing different kinds of people together.

This, believe it or not, is an art piece. It’s just outside of our art building. It’s odd, but I like it. It reminds me of Denton, a little bit—a place that is developing quickly and growing in population, but still holds on to its roots as a small community.

I took this picture from inside of Zera Coffee Co. in Denton, where I came to study with some friends (pictured here, on the left). Zera is actually a funding ministry that supports the Denton Freedom House. The coffee shop is entirely volunteer-run, and all the money it makes goes to supporting the Freedom House, which provides ministry and healing for men who have been bound by addiction, crime, and immorality. Both Denton Freedom House and Zera Coffee Co. are brilliantly shining lights in Denton. Zera is a place I can go to study or just hang out, but where I always feel the presence of Jesus Christ.

One of my favorite things about UNT is its reputation as a music school. This is one of the rooms in the Murchison Performing Arts Center. This picture was taken right before the University of North Texas Symphony Orchestra performed The Planets, Opus 32 composed by Gustav Holst. The room was so beautiful I could have sat in it and heard no music and be satisfied. As it was, the music was awesome. It was the type of music that made you want to get up and run around and maybe go on an adventure. I thank God for music often, but one of my favorite things is when I can praise God for creating something so wonderful, and that I can know His name is being glorified, even in a room full of people who don’t know Him.


What is Epiphany?

In Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God, author Bobby Gross reminds us that the liturgical season of Epiphany brings the themes of light to a culmination.  In Advent we cry out with Isaiah for the pople who walk in darkenss to see the promised light.  In Christmas we celebrate the coming of that Light in the birth of Jesus.  In Epiphany we recognize that the gift of Light is for the whole world as illustrated by the arrival of Magi from the East to the Jewish home of Mary and Joseph.  

Throughout the daily readings in the Epiphany lectionary, we follow the early life and ministry of Jesus as He is revealed as the Son of God, appearing as light to a dark world.  He is the very God shining forth, manifesting the glory of God. Oftentimes the accounts are private affairs (Transfiguration), other times public (Wedding at Cana, Baptism).  All of them take place, though, in the places Jesus lived and worked, within the context of his relationships of family, friends, and followers -- the sick, possessed, poor, celebrating, drinking, seeking, religious, fearful, apathetic, discouraged neighbors.

Jesus often follows these revelations (or “epiphanies”) with the command to “Go and tell”.  

“The one who shows himself to us asks us to make him known to others. The one who declaires, ‘I am the light o fhte world,’ says to us, ‘You are the light of the world.’ (Bobby Gross)

Lastly, two cultural practices are percolating in my imagination as I'm thinking about Epiphany:  the Blessing of the Home and the Beating of the Bounds. They are not universally practiced, but intrigue me in our attempts to live the visible life of Jesus-followers in our own neighborhoods.

Each of my guest posters selected a few prompts from a big ol' list I sent them (inspired by an overflowing folder of quotes I've saved from the Daily Asterisk).  They combined those prompts with photos and videos and observations from their own neighborhood.  


What about your neighborhood?
  • Does your neighborhood boast any community artwork (maybe even monuments or historical markers)?  What's the story it tells?  

  • What does light look like at different times of the day in your neighborhood?

  • Where do your neighbors hang out when they are not inside their homes?  Front porches?  Backyards?  Town parks?  

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