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Thoughts on Epiphany


Poem by Malcolm Guite[1]

It might have been just someone else’s story,
Some chosen people get a special king.
We leave them to their own peculiar glory,
We don’t belong, it doesn’t mean a thing.
But when these three arrive they bring us with them,
Gentiles like us, their wisdom might be ours;
A steady step that finds an inner rhythm,
A pilgrim’s eye that sees beyond the stars.
They did not know his name but still they sought him,
They came from otherwhere but still they found;
In temples they found those who sold and bought him,
But in the filthy stable, hallowed ground.
Their courage gives our questing hearts a voice
To seek, to find, to worship, to rejoice.

The Feast of the Epiphany celebrates the revelation of the Messiah to the Gentile world as represented by three mysterious wise men from the East. Who were they and how did they come to know that following a strange star would lead them to the Christ child and a king that is for them too? We don’t know. But Malcolm Guite’s poem invites us to share in their journey as those who are far from home, far from the familiar, making an arduous journey in search of something completely alien to everything they know.

We are being invited to share in the perspective of the outsider, the person who in many ways is so different from the “in group” that you wouldn’t expect them to be interested in Jesus at all, let alone risk it all to know him. Yet the Sprit of God draws them all the same and they end up kneeling before the Christ child. In fact, what we see in the gospels is that it is the outsiders that are the most open to seeing and receiving Jesus for who he is, and not those most familiar and comfortable with the Scriptures and religious traditions of the day.

Because we live in a world so eager to label people and groups as “us” and “them”, so suspicious and hostile towards those who are different from us, it’s important for us to remember that Jesus is the Messiah of all. We must maintain the mindset of pilgrims who are humble and always ready to learn more about our neighbors and to welcome those who are very different from us. We must welcome them with the same warmth and grace that Christ welcomed us and the Holy Family welcomed those first three very mysterious, very different, visitors from far away.

[1] Malcolm Guite is an English poet, singer-songwriter, Anglican priest, and academic. You can find this and other of his poems in several books or his blogsite

January 1, 2018 | Thoughts and News | 0

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