Celebrating Epiphany Heroes


It was an honor last Sunday to have a portion of my Epiphany preaching from a couple years back featured in Give Us This Day—my favorite daily devotional.  (The full text of the preaching, if you are interested, can be found in my book Let’s Talk About Truth, but I’ve included it here for easy access.)

I wrote this preaching because I love science.  I’m not necessarily good at it.  I have a tough time understanding even the most rudimentary principles of physics and high school chemistry is as confusing to me now as it was when I was sixteen. But I love reading about new discoveries being made and I especially get blown away by numbers: the number of planets in the galaxy, the number of atoms that could fit atop a pin. 

I wrote this preaching because I also love God…and the study of God, theology. I’m not necessarily good at theology either. God is a “subject” beyond anyone’s grasp, but the quest itself is a bit more familiar to me.  I have all sorts of ideas about how many angels could fit atop a pin.

And for people like me (and I’m guessing people like you) who love both science and God, Epiphany is one dazzling feast because it puts before us the magi—these early astronomers from the East.  It puts before us the mystery of how the path of science and the path of scripture merge in the journey toward Bethlehem and end up at the same manger.  In the end every pursuit of truth, from whatever discipline, if it’s an authentic pursuit, is one.

Another great example of science and faith merging is in the person of Maria Montessori.  I’ve been a fan of Montessori education for a long time now… well, ever since I attended a high school many moons ago shaped by her methodology. (I didn’t learn a lot of chemistry there, but that was my fault more than the school’s.)  The last year, it has been a joy to learn more of Montessori as a person of late, reading the new biography of her by Cristina de Stefano, The Child is the Teacher.  We are using this biography as our first book discussion in the incoming MAPS-CGS cohort at Aquinas Institute this semester and I've been re-reading it with glee.  It has helped me to see Montessori as a devoted scientist—passionate about observing children living in poverty and those who had been institutionalized because of intellectual disabilities.  She watched them, followed their lead, like the magi followed the star of Bethlehem.  In doing so, she discovered not only remarkable things about how children learn but how the mystery of God is revealed in their small lives. 

How fascinating to know that she opened the first of her “Children’s Houses” on the Feast of Epiphany in 1907.  She opened her journal entry on that day with the passage from Isaiah 60:1: “Arise! Shine, for your light has come!”  She later commented about that morning, “I don’t know what happened to me but I had a vision…that the work we were starting would prove to be very important and that one day people would come from all over the world to see it.”  No question there!  There are now 15,000 Montessori schools all around the globe.  I’ve got a longer description of Montessori and her work with children in chapter one of my forthcoming book Redeeming Power, which will be out in just a few weeks now!  Have you pre-ordered your copy yet??

If you are having a hard time waiting, I have another treat for you: a new podcast released just today of my interview with Danielle Harrison.  Danielle is a long time friend - we've known each other for over twenty years now, if I'm counting correctly.  She has a background in law, spent time in health care, became a teacher and mission director, and now runs her very own faith-based consulting firm helping secondary schools and religious communities to more fully integrate their mission and vision into the way they try to address issues of diversity, equity, and belonging in their daily practice.  I would link her website here, but she is in such demand that she hasn't had time to create one yet!  I was very lucky that she found time to talk with me.  Danielle is an amazing leader and I know you will love this interview.


“It seems to me certain . . . that one can never wrestle enough with God if one does so out of pure regard for the truth. Christ likes us to prefer truth to him because, before being Christ, he is truth. If one turns aside from him to go toward the truth, one will not go far before falling into his arms.”  - Simone Weil, “The Love of God and Affliction,” Waiting for God, trans. Emma Craufurd (New York: Harper & Row, 1973), 69.