With Epiphany on Jan. 6 last week, the Christmas holidays rolled to a close.
Epiphany is the day many Christians celebrate the Wise Men showing up with their birthday presents for Jesus.
The word "epiphany" also means a "flash of insight."
And this year, for Epiphany, I had an epiphany.
Because of my calling, I sit on the stand each Sunday within kicking distance of the bishop. And while perched there a week or so ago, I kept mulling over the difference between the view from the pews and the view from the pulpit.
The downside is that when you're on the stand, you can't sit with your family.
The upside is that you can look at your family — along with every other family in the ward. And the sight of families sitting within inches of each other gives the meetings a glow.
LDS families, I've learned, sit close at church for warmth — spiritual warmth.
Also, from the stand, you can never see the faces of the speakers. That's a downer.
But you can see the faces of the members as they absorb the speaker's words.
You may not see the word being delivered.
But you get something better. You see the word being absorbed, you can watch it being taken into people's lives.
And you can't see the chorister from the stand. That's always a drawback.
But you can see dozens of people singing the hymns, blending hearts and minds to the music. And you can feel in those hymns a harmony of souls.
Finally, on the stand, you are alone — removed from the ranks of the Saints. You've been physically and spiritually "set apart." You fly solo.
But being on the stand never feels like being shunned.
On the stand, wonder of wonders, you can actually feel closer to family, friends and neighbors — and closer to yourself — than any other place.
Sitting at a distance pulls you nearer to others.
Think of it as another Christian paradox — like "lose your life and you shall find it."
Think of it as another example of deity moving in a mysterious way.
Think of it — that "lonely place" on the stand — as a perfect place to feel connected.
Think of it as a grand place to celebrate Epiphany, with an epiphany.
Jerry Johnston is a former Deseret News staff writer. "New Harmony" appears every other week in Mormon Times. Email: [email protected]