Tuesday, January 06, 2004

The Feast of the Epiphany

A combination of the day and a church council meeting that I was at last night have got me thinking about mission. Epiphany is about the manifestation of God in Christ, especially to the Gentiles. This, it seems to me, is a perfectly decent account of mission. The manifestation of God can happen in a number of ways and is bound to surprise us (think of the Magi we remember today, surprised not to find the new King in Jerusalem). We cannot make God manifest - only God can do this. Our task as disciples of Jesus is to point to the way that Jesus makes God manifest to us. Sometimes this will mean standing up for the weak and the powerless, sometimes it will be simply enjoying the gifts that God has given to us.

The three Bible stories that have been associated with the Epiphany since ancient times are those of the visit of the Magi, the Baptism of Christ, and the wedding of Cana. Here we see the surprising manifestations of God - to a bunch of pagan astrologers (whose astrology, at least on this occasion, turned out to be correct), in the baptism for repentance of the sinless Son of God, and in the production of enough wine to keep a village drunk for a week. One Anglican bishop and theologian once described mission as finding out what God is doing and joining in (John V. Taylor, The Go-Between God). This is as good a definition as any I've come across. So this week I'm keeping my eyes peeled for astrologers, sinners and drunks. Somewhere in all that I may find that God is manifest!

No comments: