Epiphany 2: How Did You Come to Know Me?

How Did You Come to Know Me? © Jan L. Richardson

Readings for Epiphany 2: 1 Samuel 3:1-10, (11-20); Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; John 1.43-51

“Go, lie down,” Eli tells the young Samuel; “and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.'”

“For it was you who formed my inward parts,” prays the psalmist; “you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you…and that you are not on your own?” Paul writes to the Corinthians.

“How did you come to know me?” Nathanael asks of Jesus.

With each passage, the lectionary this week presents us with a God who calls to us, seeks us out, draws close to us, inhabits us. Again and again the word know appears, its repetition pressing upon us how serious God is about wanting to know us, and us to know God.

This God who calls to us, who fashions us within the womb, who inhabits our own bodies, who recognizes us in the midst of our daily lives: for those of us who need some breathing room in our lives, this God can fairly overwhelm. Do we want to be this sought, this known from the inside out?

Yet the God we see in these passages is not an intruder invading our lives by stealth or by force. Nor—though too many have absorbed such an image—is God’s persistent presence with us a form of surveillance designed to keep track of everything we do wrong. Somehow, this God who pervades all of creation, down to our very cells, manages to offer a spacious hospitality that calls to us but does not confine us; that continually invites but will not force us; that simply asks us to see and hear and know the One who is ever in our midst and in our own selves.

This week, this day, how are you listening? Where are you looking? What holy space are you making for God in yourself? How are you opening yourself to the God who wants to know and be known by you?

Blessing for Knowing

To receive this blessing,
it may feel like
you are peeling back
every layer of flesh,
exposing every nerve,
baring each bone
that has kept you upright.

It may seem
every word is written
on the back of
something that your life
depends upon,
that to read this blessing
would mean tearing away
what has helped you
remain intact.

Be at peace.
It will not be
as painful as that,
though I cannot say
it will be easy
to accept this blessing,
written as it is
upon your true frame,
inscribed on the skin
you were born
to live in.

The habits that keep you
from yourself,
the misconceptions
others have of you,
the unquestioned limits
you have allowed,
the smallness you have
squeezed into:

these are not
who you are.

This blessing simply wants
all this to fall away.

This blessing—
and it is stubborn on this point,
I assure you—
desires you to know yourself
as it knows you,
to let go of every layer
that is not you,
to release each thing
that you hide behind,
to open your eyes
to see what it sees:

how this blessing
has blazed in you
since before you were born;
how it has sustained you
when you could not see it;
how it haunts you,
prickling beneath your skin
to let it shine forth
in full and unstinting
how it begins
and ends
with your true name.

– Jan Richardson

P.S. For a previous reflection on John 1.43-51, click the image or title below:

Of Fig Trees and Angels

[To use the “How Did You Come to Know Me?” image, please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!]

HOLIDAY DISCOUNT EXTENDED! The special Christmas rate for annual subscriptions to Jan Richardson Images has been extended through Sunday, January 15. Visit subscribe for details.

12 Responses to “Epiphany 2: How Did You Come to Know Me?”

  1. Maureen Says:

    What a beautifully written blessing, Jan. It speaks to me deeply, as if to me alone. Thank you.

  2. carolyn sargent Says:

    This is….these are…..stunning!

  3. Fisherwife Says:

    O boy. I am skeered. Are you inside my head?

  4. Richard Ward WIlson Says:

    Funny how we think we know our name, yet our true name is known only to One.

  5. claire Says:

    How meaningful, Jan! How real and strikingly beautiful.
    Thank you :-)

  6. rachel awes Says:

    my bones are grateful
    for your beautiful
    art + words + blog.

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Thank you and bless you, Rachel. I am so pleased to know of your wondrous blog! Thank you for your own art and words and the blessing they offer. I am grateful to you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *