THE EPIPHANY OF CHRIST (6th January) – or, magnificently, as the Book of Common Prayer has it, “The Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles” – represents one of those glorious “Eureka!” moments in the history of our humanity.
Above and beneath, higher and lower than particular faith traditions, the Epiphany of Christ is ever old and ever new. If God is to be seen in a child in a stable in Bethlehem (“House of Understanding” – a place where we “twig” things) – then we’re led to ask the question “where is God NOT to be found?” And if we open arms and hearts and minds wide enough we discover that God is everywhere, and in everything, and in everyone. That changes our entire world view as well as our theological praxis.
For every static world that you or I impose
Upon the real one must crack at times and new
Patterns from new disorders open like a rose
And old assumptions yield to new sensation;
The Stranger in the wings is waiting for his cue,
The fuse is always laid to some annunciation.
… to pinch a few lines from Louis MacNeice’s Mutations. And then a few more …
For it is true, surprises break and make,
As when … crouched above
His books the scholar suddenly understands
What he has thought for years
The Epiphany invites us not to be so uptight; to be utterly inclusive, always and everywhere. So the arc of history in the life of the Church, indeed of all the world’s religious traditions, involves the constant invitation to new openness. And there lies the challenge.