Most Christmas cards save time and effort by carrying a greeting that wishes us a “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year”. They follow so close to each other it makes practical sense, yet Epiphany is the Church season that comes directly after Christmas. Indeed it is the continuation of the bible narrative.
Two women were waiting for a bus outside a church. A Carol service was being advertised, so one woman moaned to the other "Even the church is cashing in on Christmas!" It is so easy to get lost in the sheer busy-ness of the festive season that we lose the true meaning of the miracle of God coming into the world. And the very means of His arrival is part of the wonder of the Christmas story. The baby we now know as Jesus was born to a very poor, probably illiterate teenage girl, who herself was born into the shepherding community which was at the edge of society within a group of people despised by their Roman Empire rulers; the persecuted Jews. From the beginning God chose to deliberately associate with the hardest-hit in society, the poor, the lonely, the fearful, the homeless, and the marginalised. We could add this year those not only suffering from the pandemic, but from the stringent restrictions in response to it.
Enter the Wise Men. This marks the beginning of Epiphany. Indeed in the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition more is often made of this than Christmas. The Wise Men, or Kings, brought precious and costly gifts, and had maybe travelled for years, led by a star. Another inexplicable miracle. They represented acknowledgment by the then known world that something very special had happened that first Christmas. Also it signified Jesus could bless not just His own community but the whole world. We do not know the number of them but the assumption is three because three gifts were presented; gold, frankincense and myrrh. Perhaps the fourth brought the equivalent of Quality Street and does not get a mention! The word Epiphany has come into our English language because of this great event of Christ coming into the world AND into our everyday experiences. It means literally a moment of sudden and great revelation or realisation. There is nothing to add to this as a New Year hope. We SO need this.
BUSINESS AS USUSAL. Despite new govt. restrictions from 26th December I will continue to be available for urgent pastoral visits, and of course our churches remain open for worship at the usual times.
Stephen D. Hazlett, Rector