Archdeacon Michael: My moment of epiphany

The Ven Michael Everitt, Archdeacon of Lancaster
The Ven Michael Everitt, Archdeacon of Lancaster

Last Sunday was Epiphany Sunday. It is a day that Christians remember the magi, (three wise men, three kings) go to Jesus with their gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.

In Spain and Spanish speaking countries it is the day gifts are given. In this country I have to remember to sing the right words to ‘We Three Kings’ and resist all references to riding a scooter.

Yet on Sunday as I read the Gospel reading in the second of the two churches where I serve, I realised something I had never noticed before. These moments are appropriately enough called ‘epiphanies’!

Times where a hidden, but obvious truth comes to the fore. It is when ‘the penny drops’ and all becomes clear in a whole new and hopefully exciting way.

The Magi have seen a star and have travelled miles to see the newly born king this symbolises to them.

They go, not surprisingly to the palace in the capital city where the King asks them about when and where they saw the star. It is very familiar, especially after a full set of carol services. My moment of realisation was to embrace my inner Brian Cox.

Assuming this was a new star they had seen, it therefore would be fainter and smaller than most. That means the light travelling from it must have taken billions of light years to arrive. Thus, it was no recent whim or fancy, but something tied up with the very moment of creation, when stars were flung into space.

The sense of a plan from the beginning of time blew my socks off. Christians hold that Jesus is the Word of God made flesh and here was a sign that when God created the heavens and the earth by his word and spirit that he always intended also for Jesus to be born in Bethlehem when he was.

My epiphany moment continued, as I also realised this eternal truth that the magi had seen led to them travelling at the time of greatest danger. You can’t follow stars in the daylight and to journey in the dark means facing the wild beasts, bandits and stumbling over things in the dark.

A star whose light had taken so long to become visible on earth enabled people to travel in the darkest of moments to seek out what they knew to be good news.

This epiphany moment gives me hope at the start of the New Year, when the world has many dark features to it, that there is in fact a divine plan and order which has been in place for eternity and that if we are courageous enough will guide us through new and unchartered ways.