CHRISTMASTIDE: JOURNEY TO EPIPHANY

We walk bewildered in the light.

Yes, ‘We walk bewildered in the light….‘ We say we accept Christ but we know, if we are completely honest with ourselves, that we don’t really live the way we should. Could that be because we don’t understand what ‘epiphany‘ really means? As we journey to Epiphany, the celebration on the 6th, let us consider what we are learning.

“On sees great things from the valley..” – G. K. Chesterton

Here are some definitions of what Epiphany means from a search engine:

  • A Christian festival held on January 6 in honor of the coming of the three kings to the infant Jesus Christ.
  • A moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way. Examples: Seeing her father again when she was an adult was an epiphany that changed her whole view of her childhood. || She experienced an epiphany .
  • January 6 observed as a church festival in commemoration of the coming of the Magi as the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles or in the Eastern Church in commemoration of the baptism of Christ.
  • An appearance or manifestation especially of a divine being.
  • A usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something.

For our purposes today, for the consideration of looking at epiphany as a journey to a state of being at which we want to arrive, look especially at the second, fourth and fifth bullets. Over the past few days many people have been posting or reading about New Year’s Resolutions.  And its those postings along with these definitions of Epiphany which got us to consider the following: isn’t repentance and revelation our aim rather than resolution?  Certainly Chesterton seemed to think so in many of his writings.

We came across a posting by a mother about her young son who told her that he “…decided to never, ever have a New Year’s resolution because they are all just a waste of time. He said it’s better just to be the best person you can be all year round.”  

Out of the mouths of babes.  It occurred to us that this little child had caught on to the point that something stronger was needed.  Yes! Repentance is needed rather than just a resolution we may or may not accomplish.

A friend of mine who writes a Christian blog also shared something that same day about his view of the new year on one of his posts, so I share it here with you. He’s a fan of the Rocky films by Sylvestor Stallone and in one of those films, the character goes through a ground up, soul-changing experience:

“I guess what I’m trying to say is, if I can change and you can change, everybody can change.”

Rocky (IV)

The Greek word for repent is metanoeo, which means, “to change your mind.” (Mark 1:15). Not just on a whim, but a rewiring of how you and I think and how we see things.

Does a Christian really need New Year’s Resolutions  or is repentance and revelation the needed momentum for change?   We’ve come to the conclusion, that as Chesterton reminds us in his poem about the wise men’s journey , something startling is needed for an epiphany that leads to a revelation and a repentance that is lasting:

Hark! Laughter like a lion wakes
To roar to the resounding plain.
And the whole heaven shouts and shakes,
For God Himself is born again,

G. K. Chesterton

To be born again, to change one’s mind and heart is better than just aiming for goals which may or may not be met.  Revelation and repentance are stronger than resolution.  They are the fruit of The Epiphany the real journey toward Christ.

Though still “We walk bewildered in the light….”  There is a promise from that Epiphany:

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

1 Corinthians 13:12

Step softly, under snow or rain,
To find the place where men can pray;
The way is all so very plain
That we may lose the way.

Oh, we have learnt to peer and pore
On tortured puzzles from our youth,
We know all labyrinthine lore,
We are the three wise men of yore,
And we know all things but the truth.

We have gone round and round the hill
And lost the wood among the trees,
And learnt long names for every ill,
And served the mad gods, naming still
The furies the Eumenides.

The gods of violence took the veil
Of vision and philosophy,
The Serpent that brought all men bale,
He bites his own accursed tail,
And calls himself Eternity.

Go humbly…it has hailed and snowed…
With voices low and lanterns lit;
So very simple is the road,
That we may stray from it.

The world grows terrible and white,
And blinding white the breaking day;
We walk bewildered in the light,
For something is too large for sight,
And something much too plain to say.

The Child that was ere worlds begun
(…We need but walk a little way,
We need but see a latch undone…)
The Child that played with moon and sun
Is playing with a little hay.

The house from which the heavens are fed,
The old strange house that is our own,
Where trick of words are never said,
And Mercy is as plain as bread,
And Honour is as hard as stone.

Go humbly, humble are the skies,
And low and large and fierce the Star;
So very near the Manger lies
That we may travel far.

Hark! Laughter like a lion wakes
To roar to the resounding plain.
And the whole heaven shouts and shakes,
For God Himself is born again,
And we are little children walking
Through the snow and rain.

G. K. Chesterton, The Three Wise Men

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