'Epiphany is our chance to kick-start our search for truth' - Christian Comment
"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”.
No, not the modern traveller’s experience of an average January cross-country visit, but how TS Eliot pictures the Magi sky-gazers, excited as Brian Cox on TV with the prospect of a special star search, then confronted with not only travel hazards but, on arrival, a birth which would turn the world upside down, both for them and for humanity’ – the moment when BC became AD.
Whether or not these astronomer/astrologer visitors are just a legend, whether Kepler’s theory is right about their special star being a conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter, and whether the whole dating of Christ’s birth is a miscalculation by the Scythian Monk Dionysius Exiguus – these are less important than the simple fact that as Jesus is a historical figure he must have been born, apparently in humble circumstances.
Among many uneasy memories of a visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem dominated by a huge highly decorated building, one simple feature made a profound impression on me.
Not the steps down to the possible birth site, guided by whichever sect was on duty at the time, but the low, low doorway to the church.
You couldn’t get through unless you ‘humbled yourself’ – set aside your ‘baggage’, stooped almost prostrate – or you were (like) a little child.
The season of Epiphany runs throughout January to help us put away the tinsel, treasure the gifts, re-consider our spiritual journey, kick-start again our search for Truth – that will ensure our 2013 wisdom is not just a personal Wikipedia but a true conjunction of reality and faith.