The Epiphany of the Lord, January 7th, 2018

You have perhaps waited for years to be freed from some need.  For a long, long time you have looked out from the darkness in search for the light, and have had a difficult problem in life that you have not been able to solve in spite of great efforts.  And then…light and deliverance come quite unexpectedly, perhaps quite differently than you thought…Hasn’t God’s help come to us sometimes in this way?

                                                                                                           --Eberhard Arnold

Often, the metaphor of ‘journey’ helps as we try to understand that nature and purpose of life.  Life is a journey with God in time; “Each step an arrival” (Denise Levertov) and when we’re willing to see it all with the eyes of faith.  The Magi in today’s gospel (Matthew 2:1-12) and on this Epiphany Feast make a journey that changes the direction of their lives:  “And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.”  They’re delivered from Herod’s ploy and manipulation.

The quote by E. Arnold that begins this reflection I first read some years ago and as a Christmas meditation.  Reading it again, prompts the question, “What caused the Magi to make such a journey; moving from the familiar and into the unknown?”  They were known to be astrologers and we know from the gospel how a mysterious star “they had seen at its rising preceded them.”  Perhaps they were in search of an answer; what we’ve seen happening in space exploration and medical research in our own time.  Perhaps, it was something more personal that prompted them: an inner dissatisfaction that sought a solution, light and deliverance; beyond their notional grasp and efforts.

From the gospel passage, we do know they were in search of the newborn king of the Jews.  Yet, I like to imagine they were dissatisfied with the way things were, and that urged them to make the move into the unknown, led as they were by that mysterious star. A journey that opened lives in ways unexpected, symbolized as it is by the opening of their treasures before the Child and its mother.

I do believe we arrive at a greater appreciation of the Magi’s journey by pondering the plodding search our own lives are making.  On this journey that is our life, we inevitably face crises and problems we cannot solve and in spite of great efforts.  We, too, make our way in the dark and are in search of the light.  We, too, stand in need of a Savior.

When I made the move towards monastic life—into a great unknown, leaving the familiar behind—there was a sense of an unarticulated urgency behind it; the “must” of the gospel and seen now retrospectively.   There, my life opened in ways I did not expect.  There, I became acutely aware of my innate poverty and, in tandem with that, the profound need for God.  There, with the Magi, I was brought to my knees towards the ‘inscape’ of awareness; where there was no turning back if I ever hoped to find my way to God; each step an arrival.    Yet, like most, I continue to drag my feet and turn back in various ways.  All of us are in need of Epiphany’s Light and the saving deliverance of Christ’s birth; the Morning Star that brings us joy.

Father Tim Clark, Pastor


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