News for Sunday 9th January: The Baptism of The Lord

News from St Mary the Virgin, Kenton on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th January 2022: The Baptism of The Lord

“A cold coming we had of it, just the worst time of the year for a journey, and such a long journey: The ways deep and the weather sharp, the very dead of winter.”

Today (6th January) we celebrate The Feast of The Epiphany – the revelation or showing of Christ to the Gentiles, represented by the Magi. There is much speculation about the events we commemorate on this night. We talk (and sing) about three kings; but they probably weren't kings, but wise men or astronomers, who noticed unusual activity in the sky and followed the path of a bright star or comet. In the Good News of the Gospel according to Matthew, we are told that: “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, frankincense and myrrh.”

Much of the 'legend' that accompanies the visit of the Wise Men can be traced to poems and stories, such as the verse at the beginning of this article. Taken from the first lines of the poem “The Journey of Magi” by T.S. Eliot. The suggestion that the 'weather was sharp' is unlikely, with temperatures in Bethlehem probably still in double figures at this time of year! We also like to think that the visit of the Magi took place just after the shepherds had returned to their flocks; but in reality, Jesus was probably around two years old by the time the visit took place. It's funny how we like to group all these things together, and on Sunday we will be celebrating The Baptism of The Lord. In our modern-day culture, the birth of Jesus, visit of the Magi and Jesus' Baptism all fit quite nicely into a fortnight; but in reality, as we have discovered, whilst these events all run concurrently in the Gospels, the Baptism of Jesus took place at the start of His Ministry, when he was a thirty year-old adult!

On Sunday, it is the Good News from the Gospel of Luke which recounts the event of John the Baptist baptising Jesus in the River Jordan. “Now when all the people had been baptised and while Jesus after his own baptism was at prayer, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily shape, like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, 'You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you'.”

The First Mass of Sunday is on Saturday 8th January at 6.00pm. The Parish Mass for The Baptism of The Lord is at 10.30am on Sunday 9th January. There is an Epiphanytide Service of Carols and Lessons at St. Andrew's, Kingsbury at 6.00pm on Sunday evening, to which all are welcome.

David Griffiths