"I think I've got it" - an Epiphany message from Deacon Villarreal


Merry Christmas! Wait, we are moving on to what comes next - Epiphany.

As you may know, “Epiphany” has a Greek origin meaning “manifestation.” I have heard it said that at the very point when one finally experiences the existence of a break-through idea or a moment of realization, we sometimes say that we have had an epiphany; that moment when we think, we’ve got it.

I think we all have felt that way at certain points in our lives. Way before my ordained years, I served as a youth director at St. Bartholomew’s in Atlanta with a Journey to Adulthood (J2A) program. I can remember when one of our youth turned to me and shared his idea of an epiphany.

I was leading a youth group on a J2A Pilgrimage through the Mayan ruins in Honduras and Guatemala. While walking through the ruins with one of our youth, Riley and I met a fellow traveler from the states. He asked if we were taking a little time off from a mission trip to visit the ruins. I told him that we were not on a mission trip.

He proceeded to share the experiences of his missionary work and began to lecture us for being so close to so many unsaved people and not offering the salvation of Christ.

Before I could mention that we were just on a pilgrimage, Riley stepped in and said that we were actually on a youth pilgrimage to study the spiritual nature of the Mayan culture.

At that, our new traveling friend seemed a little more disturbed with us. He said emphatically, “If you are Christians, shouldn’t you be on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem?”

Again, before I could say anything, Riley responded.

“A Pilgrimage has less to do about the location and more to do about the journey.”

He went on to share that part of his Christian pilgrimage was discovering the spiritual nature of life so he can live into his own journey to later help and serve folks from where their journey may be.

After Riley shared his ideas, our new friend quietly walked away. Riley then turned to me and said, “That was awesome, and I think I’ve had an epiphany!” I asked what he meant. He said that he never realized how important this pilgrimage was to him until he shared his experience of just being present. Out of the mouth of our youth …

In this Epiphany season, we have an awesome opportunity to spend some time to be present with one another.

I serve on a commission that is offering a moment when we all can spend a Saturday morning conceptualizing a new approach to community engagement: “Turn It Around.” Folks from the Chattahoochee Valley and Middle Georgia parishes put this conference together to center our efforts on the communities where we live, work, and play. Everyone is invited to join in this moment to explore our gifts through asset-based ministry with the principles and practices of Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD). You can find details and information for registration at the end of this article.

During Advent, I believe we all have experienced our own journey into a time of reflection as we waited for the coming of our Christ child. Now that Advent and the twelve days of Christmas are behind us, we can begin to live into the season after the Epiphany. I believe the mystery of Jesus’ birth and the underlining mystical story of the three wise men with their gifts can lead us into another spirit-filled journey in a sacrament of the present moment, as Riley shared with me, just to be present.

Grace and Peace
Rev. Arthur W. Villarreal

Turn It Around
Featuring DeAmon Harges, “The Roving Listener”
Saturday, February 2, 2019
8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Christ Church Parish House
528 Walnut Street
Macon, GA 31201

The $15.00 registration fee includes:
Take-home materials, continental breakfast and lunch

CEUs offered - 6 hours
Registration (please register by January 30):


Sponsors: The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta; Appleton Episcopal Ministries; Chattahoochee Valley Episcopal Ministries; Episcopal Relief and Development; and Jubilee Ministries