Thought for the weekend: the great wonder of Epiphany
Last Monday, the Christmas season ended, and we entered a new calendar year. Even as we move away from the Christmas season, we remember the miracle of the birth of Jesus. There are the conventional images - the donkey, stable, Mary and Joseph, shepherds, star, Wise Men, choirs of angels, Bethlehem, Christmas carols, gifts and cards.
Then, the spirit of Christmas, - help for the poor and marginalised; hope for a just and fair society for everyone, and challenge to the hard-hearted to show kindness, generosity and compassion.
These are all elements of this so-special and unique Christmas time of year! Jesus, Saviour of the world, yet lying in a manger, but with the radiance of the divine love to all the world!
Christmas ended last Monday, making way for the season of Epiphany and this adds an important dimension to the Christmas story: it reminds us of something important about the baby Jesus. It tells us that Jesus came for all mankind. Lest any of us feels smug about 'Jesus being for me'.
In Israel 2000 years ago, on that first Christmas, some people felt that the baby Jesus came only for the Jews.
But then, the visit of the Wise Men from the east demonstrated that this baby was worshipped by people who belonged to a different religion and way of thinking than the Jews. This tells us that Jesus came for all mankind. The word 'Epiphany' means 'The Manifestation' or 'Showing Forth' of the baby Jesus to all mankind - to every person on the face of the earth and without exception.
And so, in this Epiphany season, we see that Jesus came as the glory of God's people, Israel'. Here in this story, we see that all mankind are included in the loving purposes of God.
As we progress into another year, let us keep that truth in mind as we think of other people, whatever their colour, class, creed or condition.
The baby Jesus came for the Wise Men and for Jews and non-Jews alike. The great wonder of Epiphany is that he came for me and you and all mankind without exception!