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Wednesday 6 January 2021

Becoming the Epiphany

Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3: 1-12; Matthew 2:1-12

 

By Joseph Fernandes

Vicar of St Hilda’s Ashford, Middlesex, Area Dean of Spelthorne

Context: a Church of England congregation, with mixed ages, in a suburban town location

Aim: to become the Epiphany amid troubled times

‘There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.’ Leonard Cohen.

Today we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany. It is a well-known narrative, but one that can seem removed from our context. Looking out for a light that shines in the darkness of the world, when living through a pandemic, is a journey which bridges the age gap. This light can lead us to a new life, a light that brings hope and peace to the night skies of our life, and ultimately union with God.

We do not know exactly what was in the sky, what the wise men saw in that first night of Jesus’ birth. We do not know what was in their hearts, what they felt, longed for, or dreamed. What we know is that once they saw it, they decided to see where it was leading, and they set off on their journey. They did not know where it would take them, but they did not hesitate.

FAITH IN THE NIGHT

Having faith in the night, watching and waiting, looking and searching, trusting and knowing that the darkness is not the ultimate reality, but that light does shine in the darkness, as the darkness can never overcome the light, even if it might have felt like it at times during the pandemic. There are occasions in our lives when our night sky has been lit brightly, and our minds illumined, our hearts enlightened. Those moments give us courage to travel beyond the borders and boundaries of our everyday lives. We describe these moments as ‘epiphanies’, those times when something calls us, moves us, to a new place, a new experience, where we feel the presence of God in a new way.

But there are times when the night skies are the difficulties and sorrows which we experience in our lives when living through a pandemic.

Something happened to the wise men as they began to see and hear the stories of their lives, something stirred within them, and they began to wonder that they were part of a much larger narrative. Perhaps this is why the wise men kept watching the night sky. They kept watch; they did not give up on their search. It was not a coincidence they saw the star in the sky one night, an event that otherwise could have gone unnoticed. The night sky comprises faith, trusting beyond what we can see with our physical eyes or understanding with logic, not knowing what lies ahead, but relying on God. Such is the place where we find ourselves as we try to come to terms with the aftermath of the pandemic. Jesus is the presence and light in our night sky, illumining our way and transforming our life. This light makes all the difference in the world; when we are changed, the world is changed.

THE EPIPHANY LIGHT

The epiphany light enables us to open the treasure chest of our lives, not holding back from Christ all that we are and all that we have. We respond to the incarnation, the God that wants to get personal and close, fully divine, and fully human. Our treasure chest has become full of God’s love and grace, of salvation and redemption. The journey beyond a post-pandemic world takes us towards God, towards home. This journey is not straightforward, and it has many challenges ahead, but just like the wise men, who were not escaping from home, but finding their way through another road. Once we experience the Epiphany, once we embark on this journey, guided by faith, by the light of Christ, we are no longer able to follow the old path, because we are not the same old person.

God notices us, knows us, lives with us and calls us, continually revealing himself in and through humanity, becoming human in Jesus. Our night sky looks different; we have witnessed the glory of God; we have seen the light of Christ; we are the light of Christ.

BECOMING THE EPIPHANY

Just as the wise men, we need to be on the lookout to engage with God. Seek in your lives the epiphanies, the stories, the events, that have and continue to change who we are, how we live and the path we travel, moments where you believe life is sacred, holy and acceptable to God. They can be moments of ordinary life in which divinity is revealed in humanity, and we witness God’s glory unfolding before us. We become the Epiphany.

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