CHRISTMASTIDE: JOURNEY TO EPIPHANY – Searching for the King of Kings

Let us not lose the way!

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

They were on their way to search for the “King of Kings”, these Magi or Wise Men with only a star to guide them. The question remained: what would they find? The question is the same for us today as it was for them back then. It was a a bewildering journey full of the unexpected and the dangerous.

In his poem, The Wise Men, Chesterton reminds us that we, too, ‘ 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 if we are truly seeking Christ. The world and its temptations call out in distraction along the way. Could it be because we don’t truly understand what ‘epiphany‘ really means? As we journey to Friday’s celebration of Epiphany, let us consider what we are learning.

The Wise Men on the way to Christ

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 above. Over the past few days many people have been posting or reading about New Year’s Resolutions.  Here is the resolution of one of our earliest American ancestors: Jonathon Edwards.

Early American Pastor and Theologian

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 than trivial and quickly forgotten “New Year’s Resolutions”. He was catching on to what Chesterton meant when he said that New Year’s resolutions had to include a change in one’s soul.  The person we were before the journey must not be the same person we become after the journey. Yes! Repentance is needed rather than just a trivial list of changes 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 Sylvester 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 metanoia, 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.

For a Christian then, New Year’s Resolutions must really be a repentance based on a revelation of who Christ is.  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 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 Wise Men

Our Epiphany Prayer

We are drawn to your feet in worship
Your creation facing its creator
Hearts laid bare by your light
Humbly asking for your mercy.
We come to you as a people in need
of assurance and forgiveness.
We come to you as a people in need
of healing and wholeness.
We come dependent upon your love.
Draw us close.
Enfold us in your arms.
Fill us with your Spirit
that we might reflect your light
within this dark world,
speak your Word with boldness
and draw others to your feet.
We ask this through your dear Son Jesus Christ.

Beloved, may God bless you on this journey.


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