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A Letter from Fr Andy

So it’s all gone; all packed away.  Four months of build-up and whoosh – two weeks after the event and Christmas has gone.  Shops already have Valentine’s Day cards and Easter Eggs out.  It’s such a shame that a season that brings/offers so much in its messages of love and peace is done away with so speedily.  It’s a shame too that the Epiphany gets passed by so quickly that it barely happens.  In fact, there are some churches that don’t celebrate Epiphany at al.  They may display the three wise men (Some even do that before Christmas) and sing We Three Kings but never think about the feast itself or its importance.

 

We know from the Gospel that wise men came ‘from the East’.  There may have been three, they may have been kings as well, they may have travelled on camels and their names might be Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar.  On the other hand, that could all be a load of tosh.  It’s pretty certain that Jesus was older than when the shepherds visited (possibly nearly two years old) and living in a house, not a stable.  The shepherds would certainly have gone back to their flock and Jesus wouldn’t have been lying in a manger but still we peddle and display a muddled version of the Christmas story.

 

However, I would like to suggest that none of that is important.  What matters is the message of Epiphany.  This feast has been celebrated in the Western Church since the fourth century so must be one of the most enduring feasts of the Church’s calendar.  The word, “Epiphany” is derived from Greek and means manifestation.  This is how the redeeming of mankind, born out of God’s love for us, was to be manifest or made known.  God became man and did so for the whole world.  The point of the wise men is that they were not Jewish, nor were they Bethlehem locals, they were gentiles from far away.  They were shown Jesus (God made man), the fulfilment of a promise made centuries before and repeated throughout history and they were to go and tell everyone about it so that he may be known far and wide.

 

The same message was given to Mary Magdalene on Easter morning – “Go and tell…….” and, again, at the end of the gospels “Go and make disciples…..”  Well, the wise men have gone, so has Mary Magdalene, and so too have the apostles.  We now stand in their place; we are now called to “Go and tell.”  Unfortunately, we seem to have lost our way on that and our focus, all too easily, becomes about our buildings and how we protect and maintain what we have in our patterns and places of worship, but we are wrong.

 

Jesus did not say “Go and build somewhere that you can feel safe in; somewhere you can grow old together and protect what you have from falling into other people’s hands.”  We are called to do just the opposite.  We are called to go and tell and to share what we have because what we have is the good news of the love of God and how that is available to all and we can’t do that sitting in church, on a Sunday morning, with people who’ve already heard the same message.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t go to church or do away with churches.  It is perfectly right for us to meet to praise God and hear his word but that is meant to sustain and feed us for the work we are called to do: “Go and tell”.

 

So, I call on everyone to reflect on how they do that – in what you say, what you do, how you live.  Go on, take the risk, in God’s name and in God’s interests and all will be well in God’s time and in God’s kingdom and remember “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phillipians 4:13)

      

God bless        

 

Fr Andy

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