The Feast of the Epiphany
By the time Christmas is over and the new year is underway, we get to Epiphany, and it feels like life can get back to normal. Except that this year, exactly when life is going to get back to anything like normal is impossible to predict. Exactly what lies ahead of us, and how and when we ‘ll get there is anything but clear.
All that is clear is that we – the whole world – will need courage and resolve to keep us going until we get there.
The wise men would have needed courage and determination in spades. What a journey that must have been! When they set out they didn’t even know where they were going. What would they find when they got there – wherever ‘there’ turned out to be? They didn’t know that either. The road that lay ahead of them was hidden from sight. All they could see clearly was a star, a pinprick of light in the night sky. And even that would have disappeared behind the clouds for nights on end.
And yet, on and on they trekked, through unknown lands, through deserts, across mountains, through hardships and danger that we can only guess at, steadfastly trusting that, up there, beyond the clouds,
their guiding star was still shining brightly in the heavens. They must often have been weary and saddle-sore, hungry, thirsty, but they kept on going, no matter how hard the going got. I believe what kept them going was something we could call faith; a deep, unexplainable certainty that, one day, they would get to the place where the star was leading led them, and they would kneel before an unknown king, in an unknown town, in a strange land.
That journey of theirs has a lot to tell us about our own journey of faith. It’s not always easy going. We don’t always see clearly the road ahead. And we can’t know exactly what we’ll find when we arrive at our destination. And although we follow, not a star but a far greater light, the Light of the World himself, nevertheless there are times when that light seems to have grown dim, in the world, in our own lives. The road we’re travelling seems hidden from our sight, and it sometimes feels as though God is very far away and we’re walking alone.
At times like these, when the world seems to be shrouded in chaos and darkness, it is hard to keep on trusting, that Christ’s light is still shining, clear and bright, beyond the clouds of doubt and fear. But if you’ve lived through a few Scottish winters, you know fine that the sun doesn’t stop shining just because we can’t see it for clouds. We know there’s a day approaching when it will flood the land again with light and warmth.
Jesus is the light which has come into this world and which nothing can extinguish. It’s not human courage and determination that keeps us going on the journey of faith, although it helps. It is Jesus himself, with us every step of the way, just as he promised.
He is closer to us than we can ever know – and never more so than when we don’t feel his presence,
when life is grey and difficult and we feel alone or afraid. He is right here, walking alongside us, on the road that leads to his kingdom. And although we can’t picture exactly what it will be like when we get there,
one thing we do know, with deep unexplainable certainty: there justice, and truth and peace will reign,
and there love will have the final say.
The wise men set out to pay homage to an unknown king. He has a name. His name is Jesus Christ.