We have just celebrated the feast of the Epiphany when traditionally the church remembers the visit of the three wise men who came ‘from the east’ to worship the baby Jesus. Three visitors from a completely different culture bringing varied gifts to the Christ child, reminding us of the diversity of God’s creation and of the gifts brought to us by all who come to us as strangers.
Epiphany is a challenge to us to be open to different voices and perspectives, but as well as being a challenge, it is a time for delight and affirmation, a celebration of the light of Christ shining in the darkness. There is of course a sobering side to the season, because the story of Herod and the flight into Egypt is about those who are compelled to make a journey, just as many today make journeys not because they want to but because they have no choice. But inspite of this, injustice and oppression do not have the last word, for the light shines on in the darkness and the darkness has never overcome it.
W.B. Yeats wrote a poem in the dark year of 1938 in which there is a phrase about our sense of surprise and joy ‘transfiguring all that dread’. For me that phrase is a helpful one and one to hold on to because there is so much dread in the world around us today. We need to make space for delight and to be surprised by God, to experience the wonder and joy of the Word made vulnerable human flesh.
Along with whatever New Year resolutions we make about diet or exercise, perhaps we can make some time each day to open our hearts to this God who does such wonders, and to whom we offer the service of our lives.
Rev Justine Wyatt