News for Sunday 5th January 2020

St. Mary-the-Virgin, News for Sunday 5th January 2020: An Epiphany Moment.

I am sure that you will have (at some time) experienced what is sometimes known as “An Epiphany Moment” – when something that was unclear suddenly becomes apparent. When we were younger, it may have been one of those tricky mathematical concepts which we just couldn’t understand (‘fractions’ or ‘long division’ spring to mind!) and then one day, we just suddenly got it! And we could understand what it was all about and we couldn’t get enough of it. Or it may be some other area of learning which we struggled with for days, or months or even years before the ‘dawn of realisation’ provided the explantion we had been searching for.  

On Sunday we celebrate the great festival of The Epiphany of The Lord, commemorating the visit of the Wise Men to the stable in Bethlehem. Apart from its biblical meaning of Christ appearing to the gentiles in the form of the Wise Men or Magi; the word can also be used in a more general term for a moment of revelation or realisation.

There are many misconceptions about the visit of the Magi – the plural of the Greek word ‘magus’ which means ‘learned man or magician’. Perhaps they were astrologers? “And there in front of them was the star they had seen rising; it went forward and halted over the place where the child was. The sight of the star filled them with delight, and going into the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and falling to their knees they did him homage. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.”

There is nothing to confirm how many Wise Men there were – although the three gifts each represent a part of Jesus’ life – and ultimately his death, too! Of course the importance of this moment in the life of Jesus is NOT so much in the detail, but what this visit represents. The Magi would not have come from Israel and were almost certainly not Jewish. Christ was born for the whole human race: Gentile as well as Jew. God became incarnate so that all who believe in Him may have eternal life. Now that is a moment of revelation!

Perhaps at this time of year, as we think of the impending flight of The Holy Family into Egypt to escape the tyrany of Herod as he commands the slaughter of the newborn infants, it is somewhat ironical that this month’s ACAT Prayer Case of the Month relates the case of Esraa Abdel Fattah who is being held prisoner in Egypt for campaigning for Human Rights! It is no more than an interesting link – but it merely shows how much God’s love is needed in our World today, just as it was over 2000 years ago.

On Monday 6th January, Mass will be at 6.30pm before our Parish Planning Meeting (7.00pm) – a time to look ahead to the rest of the year and put together a calendar of the special events that will be taking place. This is open to EVERYONE – and provides an opportunity for us to plan the year ahead and identify the social and fund-raising events that we would like to hold during the year.

Next Saturday, 11th January, there will be NO services at St Mary’s as we hope that a good number will be able to get along to Southwark Cathedral for the 11.00am Mass with Bishop Jonathan to start the Fulham Epiphany Festival. Please bring your own lunch. There are Workshops after lunch, and to finish the afternoon Benediction will take place at 3.30pm just down the road from the Cathedral at St Magnus the Martyr, London Bridge.

With every best wish for the New Year,

David Griffiths