You may have heard Oprah Winfrey call it her “Ah Ha Moment” and many others describe it as a sudden revelation of reality that usually changes you in an instant. Unlike the word in its traditional sense, my “epiphany” came on a Saturday, not a Sunday. And, I was surrounded by mourners not magi. Through a new tradition called “ego tripping” and with the help of some girlfriends shouting “Wakanda Forever!” it suddenly dawned on me what the wise men saw that night in a lowly manger. And, its a revelation that has rocked me to the core.
In traditional churches, Epiphany Sunday is about the revelation of the magi, the wise men from the East who attended the Christ child at the time of his birth and brought him three gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2:1-12). Over time, the festival has continued but it’s easy to lose site of its meaning.
Like most treasures in the earth, though they may be discovered once and hidden away for safe keeping or even lost to antiquity, they never really remain lost forever. Sometimes it just takes a funeral, a little ego talk and Marvel Studios “Black Panther” movie to help see them revealed again for a future generation.
Every good treasure hunt begins with a spark of light.
A beautiful woman with a brilliant soul, AnEta Sewell-Spence, passed on quickly Christmas Day. Her girlfriends boasted of her intelligence, sharing her doctoral degree, media accolades as the first black woman reporter on television in her market, pioneering work with the Black Arts and Film Festival at the Kravis Center and tireless work for the poor in her community. But in all their “ego tripping” over their late friend and soul sister, it quickly became apparent that the light of AnEta’s life was none of her accomplishments but rather her ability to manifest Christ to everyone she met.
Miriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines epiphany (lower case) as “an appearance or manifestation especially of a divine being.” In a sense, AnEta was her own epiphany of Jesus, just as the Epiphany (upper case) has become a celebration of the manifestation of Christ to the magi. You might even say, each of us is deserving of our own Epiphany when we let Christ manifest himself to us.
Looking on the Epiphany of AnEta’s funeral, I started to enter into that greater Epiphany of the Magi.
There were no gold, frankincense and myrrh to give to the Christ child in AnEta that day, but she did received M&M’s and a hearty toast from her girlfriends with a Black Panther mug and the salutation to “Wakanda Forever!”
And as I entered further into this pondering thought, I had a vision:
As though I had been swept up in a cloud, I suddenly saw myself peering into the throne room of Heaven. Much like that night the star shown bright over the manger, everyone was circled around the Lamb, only he was not a child but a man. And, I heard a voice like that of a commander going over plans for invasion, reminding each one present of the stakes and the perilous journey behind enemy lines they were about to partake. I noticed these souls were all pure white, there were no color in them except the colors of the one speaking. And, in that moment, I realized the one speaking was Our Heavenly Father. He prayed over each of them and gave them His blessing. None of them cried or showed weakness, each accepted their assignment with confidence and grace. “It is time,” I heard a voice call out. And as everyone gathered into their position, I saw the Father pull aside the Lamb. Head to head, I heard Him tell His son, “I wish I could take away this burden from you.” And the Son, grabbed hold of His Father saying,”It is my honor and my privilege to do this Father.” And I heard the Father continue, “You will not go down among the titans of industry, it is far too dangerous to send you there. Nor shall you be sent among the learned and the wise, for they shall see you as you are. You must remain hidden, My Son, until the appointed time has come for the enemy to know you have overthrown him. Therefore, you must go down to the shepherds, to the poorest of all the poor. You will be sent among the outcasts, the oppressed, and you will be rejected and tormented, even tortured because of your status.” I saw the Son bow his head low and whisper, “Let it be done, Father, as you have said.” Then the Father embraced the Son, and He continued “The others shall go with you, and when they awaken, they shall find you and come to you. Remember them as you see them now. You will know them by their soul for the soul has no color and I am in them. There are others too, which I have sent before you. They shall be a sign to you that you are on the right path. Indeed, when you open your eyes this night, you shall be a newborn child in the arms of a loving mother and a man named Joseph. They are one with us.” Then the Son departed, and the others with him. And, I saw as though a beam of light fell from the Heavens and shot forth to earth, down into the shepherd hills, and angels hastened around them as they fell protecting them along their journey, until suddenly a bright light encompassed all the land and I could see nothing but blinding light. And, when my eyes were opened, I saw him there. That beautiful Lamb was now a newborn child – and when he had opened his own little eyes, he looked at me, and smiled. Here he was, and these others were here as it was told, only the ones I’d seen in Heaven had not yet come. Everything was as the Father had said.
The soul has no color. It is a pure reflection of all the colors of the Father.
Wakanda is a fictional country located in Sub-Saharan Africa created by Marvel Comics. It is home to the superhero Black Panther. Wakanda first appeared in Fantastic Four #52 (July 1966), and was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Some speculate it’s roots come from local tribes in the area, or the word “kanda”, which means “family” in Kikongo.
Back in the pew, I started to look around at all the titans of industry that were in the room, the learned and the scholared and I saw the skins of white and black. A quote from Scriptures was inscribed along the back wall “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism.” And it suddenly dawned on me why He had to come to us poor. And why He still comes to us poor.
The greatest among you will be your servant.
– Matthew 23:11
What a humbling thought to realize our Lord chooses to come to us among the poor and the oppressed. How much more humbling to know He still does the same thing today.
Ms. AnEta was a child among the poor who grew up to be a woman of excellence in a world of titans and the wise. But she didn’t become it for her own sake but for her Saviour’s. When I think back now on the vision, maybe Wakanda isn’t that far off from Heaven. Maybe that room wasn’t full of girlfriends shouting “Wakanda Forever”, but rather full of Christ’s soldiers chanting “Family forever!”
I like to believe now those “others” who went down with Him were people like John the Baptist, Karol J. Wojtyla, Martin Luther King Jr. and even you and me. People who went before the Christ child and came after Him to prepare an invasion into the enemy’s terrain. An invasion of light and love and peace. People like AnEta, who inspire you to look beyond the color of your skin and find the family inside the color of your soul. People who will respond to the same battle cry, “Christ is King forever!”
Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”
– Luke 9:48
May you be blessed to follow in the path of the magi and find yourself with an epiphany of Christ that will lead you onto a new path home, one that is without color and full of the immensely blinding light of Christ’s love.
Until the Day Dawns
and the Morning Star (from the East) rises in our hearts!
Rest In Peace AnEta ❤️ Your mission is complete. Well done.