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The Epiphany

When I was eleven or so, and having been only for a short time in a new Junior school, there I remember was a morning of excitement. The school grounds ran alongside a main road.  There was a black painted metal fence with spiky tops and a broad swathe of mowed grass between that and the path joining school buildings. Naturally, the lawn with its lovely ornamental trees, was out of bounds, but on this particular morning we were all taken from our classrooms and lined up in this forbidden land. I had no idea why until a whisper went round finally reaching us, the first formers, to tell us that the Queen was going to drive past. And sure enough after a short wait a long black car swept by on its way somewhere and there was a waving figure in the back.  I suppose that it was the queen after all they were wearing a yellow hat!

I cannot really say that I was excited about the Queen, but I do find it interesting that more than forty years later I still remember it. Now our three wise men were much more excited and, more importantly, were much more certain than I.  They were quite sure that they had found the Messiah,  “When they saw the star they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother and fell down and worshipped him. Then opening their treasure they offered him gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh."

My dictionary says that “wise” means “having knowledge or to be learned,” but a more embracing idea of wisdom is that it is the searching after knowledge, yes, but that wisdom is found in seeking out God’s purposes. Nobody you see can be truly wise unless they live in the will of and for the glory of God. I want to say that our three kings were wise not so much because they correctly interpreted the star poring over their books and almanacs while away in their Eastern countries, but wise because they made the trip, they followed it and sought out the Christ child in the manger, in the stable at Bethlehem. And once they were there they fell to their knees in worship.

T S Eliot describes the journey in his poem “The Journey of the Magi.” It is a memorable poem giving vivid life to the trip made by the three wise men, but it is also a poem about Eliot’s personal journey of his coming to faith.  A journey that each of us makes and that we continue to be on as we seek each day to become wiser and to know more of God’s purpose and especially to learn more of God’s great love for each one of us.


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