31 Mar Recognising the King
Having had a brief interval in December, Messy Church returned in January full of light, life and vigor.
Our session this month was all around Epiphany, the gift that is Christ in the form of a baby and a guiding light to us. We made treasure boxes, to remind us of the gifts of the wise men and in thinking about what we have to offer we put together bags of toiletries for the guests at the Winter Night Shelter.
We also remembered that the magi came from afar, and that Christ has come for us all, in such faith we should embrace the multiple cultures we are surrounded by. To help us remember this we made coconut ladoo’s, Indian coconut sweets. In addition we made Epiphany bracelets.
The worship began with a star treasure hunt, following the guiding star where we caught up with the magi. We followed the magi, to Bethlehem and along the way heard all about their journey, what they were hoping to achieve and how they felt after finding the Christ child!
Below are a few thoughts which helped us to think about what the Epiphany might mean to us.
There are many many wells of knowledge and wisdom on which one can draw on relating to epiphany, but here are just a couple of thoughts I thought I would share with you. The word Epiphany comes from the ancient Greek epiphaneia, “manifestation, striking appearance”, it is an experience of sudden and striking realisation. It can apply in any situation in which an enlightening realisation allows a problem or situation to be understood from a new and deeper perspective.
Epiphanies are relatively rare occurrences and generally follow a process of significant thought about a problem. Often triggered by a new and key piece of information, but importantly, a depth of prior knowledge is required to allow the leap of understanding.
In Christianity, Epiphany celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ. In the Western church the feast commemorates the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child and thus Jesus’ physical manifestation to the gentiles. That initial depth of prior knowledge of God, allows for that leap of understanding of Christ in our lives. Epiphany allows us to revisit Christmas from a new and deeper perspective.
It is often interpreted as an occasion when we should think about what we can offer God, which is right, but it is also important to remember that God has given us the gift first, the gift of God’s own self in a human child. We celebrate that gift at Christmas, and at Epiphany we celebrate the fact that the new light that has dawned is for everyone, Gentiles included, and not just for God’s own people, the Jews. Again, this is a day to celebrate that God has chosen to be with us as the light of our lives.
In Rowan Williams’ New Year message a few years ago, the former Archbishop spoke of the way so many people of faith give their time without any fuss or publicity as volunteers to make a better world for everyone. And he went on to say, “as we think about this silent groundswell, perhaps our minds can begin to open up to the deepest secret of all – the trust that the entire universe is held together by the quiet, unfailing generosity of God.” Let that really sink in. It is not a resolution to go about being busy, or telling other people something. It is a resolution to entrust ourselves to the reality of God. In order to do that, we have to set aside some time to stop our relentlessly active lives and receive what God is giving us.
Let us keep these things in mind as we talk to the young people and their families at this months Messy Church, reminding them and ourselves of the gift God has given us in Christ Jesus, and of the ways in which we can respond to that gift.
“Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”