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Jan 6th - The Feast of the Epiphany

The Wise Men have finally made it to Bethlehem! In Church our crib has been waiting for them to join the scene as they con

clude their long journey. 6th January is the Feast of the Epiphany. Epiphany means something similar to “revealing” and on this day we witness Christ’s revealing to those travellers from far, far away.

It is easy to forget just how hard it must have been f

or the Magi (Wise Men) to complete the journey to Jesus. They probably came from over 1,000 miles away - the sheer distance is amazing without modern transport. They are, almost certainly, neither Jews nor Roman citizens. They truly come from an alien place. Yet they are drawn to Jesus.

One of the things which

Jesus did was to open the pathway to God to people who had long been considered alien, therefore, unworthy of relationship with God. Despite their obvious resources, the Magi were second class citizens as they entered Judea, at least according to Jewish custom.

Unfortunately the church sometimes makes people feel like second class citizens, even when we try really hard not to. Some people feel like they would not be welcome at Church and we need to make sure they know they will be. This is a risk - if you truly invite everyone you never know who will show up - and they might have screaming kids, or have no access to a shower, or talk to themselves.

The challenge of the Magi is not just to get us to turn to Jesus, to adore and give of our riches. They also challenge us to ponder that they are strangers on a journey, and totally welcomed and accepted by Jesus.


Another reflection on the Journey of the Magi by T.S.Eliot

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A Meditation for Advent from Lucinda MacArthur

Anticipation: The awaiting of a new arrival. Excitement tinged with anxiety. Hope mingled with trepidation. Mary and Elizabeth, two cousins; one young, one old; one running for her life, one with a mute husband. A tiny body, nestled in its warm protective home, destined to become the Savior of the world. And his mother, a terrified young girl on the run, still reeling from the angel's proclamation that is her new reality. Another little one, mere feet away, destined to prepare the Way. One Spirit, so powerful as to compel an unborn baby to jump for joy and a woman with child to exult the Name of her Savior, sight unseen. They embrace in this place of sanctuary, anticipating.

Halfway around the world and two millennia later, we, too, respond as the Savior draws near. Some offer no response. They don't know TO respond. They don't know Him. They've never heard. They will continue to struggle along their path, searching in vain for meaning, never looking to the sky to see the Star leading the Way.

Some are too worried to look up and see Him there. They are constantly in fear, dreading what the future brings, immersed in the regrets of the past, their fragile faith choked by anxiety and uncertainty. They will limp past the well of Living Water in their preoccupation with what disaster looms up ahead.

Some are simply too busy to acknowledge His coming. Rushed and hurried, they toil through their important workaday lives, intent on accomplishing as much as possible, amassing as much as they are able. They will surge past His outstretched hand, eager to be on to something bigger and better, newer and costlier.

Then there will be the few, who, sensing a quickening in their hearts, pause and listen. Putting down the tools of their trade, their phones, their remotes, they'll breathe deeply. Their eyes wide and full of wonder, they will ask, "Lord, is it You? Is it time?" And, just as it did all those years ago, an inexplicable mix of joy, peace, and relief will quietly fill their hearts and slowly, slowly all will be well. Yes, Jesus, Emmanuel - God with us - is here.

Here to save us. Here to love us. Here to gather us to Himself.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.

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As some of you know this past weekend we had our Diocesan Convention. As it is the 100th Birthday of the Diocese of Western North Carolina our special guest was the Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry. Some of you who have been around for a while might have known him when we was bishop of our neighboring diocese North Carolina. For others he will be recognizable as the perso who preached at the wedding of Meghan and Harry.

He issued two clear challenges for us. The first was to go deeper and the second was to love. Each of those might sound very basic. But, as with so many things in our Christian faith, what sounds simple is often the hardest thing to do.

We heard about trees which impressed him in Ghana and how the guide who was with him talked about not only the root system sustaining the tree but the tree sustaining the environment. In these days of Global Warming we know that trees are a vital part of our fight against climate change. Alongside, of course, behavior change. As the tree sustains the world around it so we, rooted deeply in God, can offer sustenance to the world around us.

Then, on Sunday, we heard about love. Inclusive love. Most people at Redeemer pride themselves on inclusivity, but we have to be careful what we mean by that. Yes, we should certainly include those who have been traditional excluded from the full life of the Church. But there is something else. That something is continuing conversation with those with whom we totally disagree. Our inclusiveness cannot only stretch to the parts of life and people which we like to include or who are in our comfort zone, it has to go beyond to those we find utterly uncomfortable and we have to be willing to be witnesses to Christ in conversations from which we would rather run away.

I am not quoting Michael Curry above but it is the end point of what he talked about, that is that we must love one another, and that means everyone.

I don't have an immediate take away. I would invite you to go to the Diocesan Website or YouTube Page over the next few days as the videos become available and watch for yourself. Advent is around the corner and we will be taking the oppotunity to journey inwards towards God. But there is also an opportunity to grow outwards.

I have said to you many times from the pulpit that having conversation with those whom you usually regard as "other" , meaning the people who are not usually in your sphere of life because you would rather avoid them, are frightening. They are frightening because they can arouse big emotions and remind us of painful times in our lives. There is another piece as well, conversations with other run the risk of offering perspectives which we find actually cause us to question and change.

That is why we must love. We rely on God alone and, even if we find ourselves on stormy seas, even if we find things out about ourselves or our way of being which are challenging, it is OK, we are leaning on God. Love is not a ticket into all knowledge, it is not a way of holding on to all truth. Love is not mine or yours. Love is bigger than all of that. None of us know everything and learning to love means learning to value our own wisdom, but to accept it as partial, and learning to value the wisdom of others, even in the midst of disagreement.

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