January 6, 2012 | 10:04 am

The God of All People

There is a human tendency to categorize people, which is particularly evident among us religious types. Just consider the variety of labels we have for fellow Christians: liberal and conservative, holy roller and God’s frozen chosen, pomo (postmodern) and traditionalist, zealous evangelist and nominal Christian, Protestant and Catholic—the categories are endless. I’m fine with this with one exception: when we create a category of people for whom God will never be known. Too often we, as Christians, will say that because of someone’s lifestyle, or because of someone’s religion, or because of someone’s past, there is no chance that God is present in their lives. The story of Epiphany reminds us that this is a category that does not exist with God.

As we think about the categories we have created, remember this: the story of the three wise men, which features prominently at Epiphany, represents a great reversal. Previously, they were associated with magicians, diviners, and sorcerers from other religions who could not grasp the mysteries of God. Now, in the story of Jesus’ birth, they were among the first to recognize the movement of God in our midst. It says in the Gospel of John, “Jesus is the light of the world.” This light is not confined to geography or ethnicity. It is a light for all people. Epiphany is our celebration of a God whose presence permeates all of our categories!