January 2013 Letter

Epiphany

These days, we have looked forward to Christmas from so far back in the autumn that we are a bit ‘Christmassed out’ by New Year and almost miss what used to be a major Feast Day at Epiphany, January 6th, the traditional Twelfth (and last) Day of Christmas.

 

Epiphany is traditionally the day on which the Wise Men finally arrived to see the infant Jesus – the moment when Jesus ‘went public’ as it were – displayed not only to his family and the local shepherds, but to representatives of the rest of the world.

 

‘Epiphany’ means ‘Shining Out’ and during the next few weeks at church we will be reading about various times in the Bible when, for a few moments, the veil was pulled aside and people were able to see the reality of God shining through their day to day lives. Even for those people who walked with Jesus, that wasn’t an everyday experience, any more than it is for us. It is strange to think of it, but most of the disciples’  time with Jesus was spent in very ordinary ways – travelling, listening to him preaching, squabbling about the usual silly things that clubs and groups always get caught up in. But now and again, there would be one of those moments when it was as if their vision was cleared and they saw a glimpse of the reality that lay under that ordinary surface.

 

For many of us, Christmas brings moments like that. The candlelit services; the sound of long-loved carols outside our window on a frosty night; some sudden act of kindness or generosity, or just the opportunity to step out of the hustle and bustle and sit and eat and drink and celebrate with people we love.  For a short while, we can glimpse the oneness and the love that binds us together, and see its spiritual power. But of course, those moments don’t last. They aren’t supposed to. On one very special occasion, a literal ‘mountain top’ experience for Jesus and a few of his closest disciples, his friend Peter tried to prolong the moment and Jesus had to gently tell him ‘no’. The point of those moments is to refuel us spiritually; to give us strength for the more prosaic business of living out God’s calling in our daily lives. They are to remind us that the real reality of life has an underground river of grace running beneath it, which may be unseen but which is always there to nourish us, even when we see no spring.

 

This New Year, as always, the challenge is to carry the light of Christmas with us and let it make a difference in our lives in practical ways.

 

Which makes it a good time to remind anyone who came to a Christmas Communion service and regretted not being Confirmed, that confirmation preparation will be starting this month for adults as well as young people. It won’t be too late, even if you read this later in the month.

 

Reverend Karen Spray church@revdkaren.org.uk 01392 877400


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