My mind has been on Mary, the mother of our Lord this week. And also a writer of the 300-400 AD era by the name of Epiphanius. It was his name that came up in my study on Monday from Luke 2, when I read in a commentary that it had been “hinted to” but not documented in scripture (which is very important) that Mary was martyred. That would not surprise me with the evil of the world then and now. Satan would have loathed the woman who brought our Lord to fruition through her womb, by the power of God. And who would have better known the facts of the matter than she herself. Oh my stars, my stomach just turned over to think of her life and watching the crucifixion of her child.
My youngest, who is 32, just left on a trip to New York, I worry for her and her safety, it’s the way of a mother. My soul hurts, literally, when one of my girls or grandchildren struggle. So to imagine… and I can’t, the pain Mary went through as the mother of our Lord, is beyond what I could possibly comprehend. But I am also very careful not to put her in a position of magnification above what the Lord allows. She’s wonderful. But she is not to worshiped or idolized as some would have us believe. She too was just like those of us willing to serve. A vessel of the Father.
So back to Epiphanius. When I read his name and what he “hinted” at, I became fascinated with him. Who was he? And when he spoke those words, if he did, in what context were they spoken? Was he one who idolized Mary? And if so… I couldn’t give weight to his words. So I did what all tech gals do, I went to the web in search of information. And boy did I find some! Now I’m kind of in love with the guy. But my husband has no worries… he’s long gone. Having died as he lived in the year 403 A.D. Serving.
There is a story for which I read, there were many, and not always so factual. But one that had facts to back it up was the story of “the curtain incident.”
A letter from Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis, in Cyprus, to John, Bishop of Jerusalem covers the incident of the curtain, which unlike other passages attributed to Epiphanius, is accepted as authentic by scholars. All of which is according to the web. Which we know wouldn’t lie, right? (Insert rolled eyes here). But I guess as far as we can tell, this is truth.
The letter reads as follows:
Moreover, I have heard that certain persons have this grievance against me: When I accompanied you to the holy place called Bethel, there to join you in celebrating the Collect, after the use of the Church, I came to a villa called Anablatha and, as I was passing, saw a lamp burning there. Asking what place it was, and learning it to be a church, I went in to pray, and found there a curtain hanging on the doors of the said church, dyed and embroidered. It bore an image either of Christ or of one of the saints; I do not rightly remember whose the image was. Seeing this, and being loth that an image of a man should be hung up in Christ’s church contrary to the teaching of the Scriptures, I tore it asunder and advised the custodians of the place to use it as a winding sheet for some poor person. They, however, murmured, and said that if I made up my mind to tear it, it was only fair that I should give them another curtain in its place. As soon as I heard this, I promised that I would give one, and said that I would send it at once. Since then there has been some little delay, due to the fact that I have been seeking a curtain of the best quality to give to them instead of the former one, and thought it right to send to Cyprus for one. I have now sent the best that I could find, and I beg that you will order the presbyter of the place to take the curtain which I have sent from the hands of the Reader, and that you will afterwards give directions that curtains of the other sort—opposed as they are to our religion—shall not be hung up in any church of Christ. A man of your uprightness should be careful to remove an occasion of offence unworthy alike of the Church of Christ and of those Christians who are committed to your charge. Beware of Palladius of Galatia—a man once dear to me, but who now sorely needs God’s pity—for he preaches and teaches the heresy of Origen; and see to it that he does not seduce any of those who are intrusted to your keeping into the perverse ways of his erroneous doctrine. I pray that you may fare well in the Lord.
See why I love him! He kind of reminds me of my David. Who is often harsh when it comes to correctness and those who live in err and profess to be right. Now… don’t tell him that I told you (I’m joking, he knows) he is not always right either. But David indeed does have the work ethic of similarity to the biblical ethics of Epiphanius.
So this is why I am thinking much on Mary and Epiphanius today and the days prior. When Mary said in Luke 1:46 ~“And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,” she knew what we all should know, it wasn’t about her. And even though to some (but not to my David) they would say that Epiphanius’ reaction was brash; when rather than politely asking the church to remove the curtain, he ripped it to shreds. But he knew what this world does not, how much the Lord loathes religion over relationship.
Religion is everywhere. And I really hadn’t thought about the images we project into our mind and lives that are not biblical. So over the last few days when I drew what I imagined Mary to be like, you’ll note I did not put a halo over her head, I however did add some sparkles, just because I think every woman of God should shine.
So as we go into the Christmas season, I’m challenging myself and you to rethink some of the images you have in your mind about what this season should look like. Remember, Jesus “was a baby,” Now He’s a very grown up King. And our images will in no way do justice to the real King of glory. Wow! I just wrote myself happy again.
Love ya. Mean it. Shari