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An end or a beginning?

News St Martin – Talking Points

Sunday 5 January 2014

However hard we try, it’s difficult not to feel that Christmas is the end of something, rather than the beginning.

The end of Advent? Of the shopping season? Of a vast amount of eating and drinking? Of the calendar year, as we try to tie up all the loose ends we meant to get to before. But now Christmas is over. Long nights. Cold weather. No bank holiday until April.

As the possessor of an early January birthday, I’ve always had a certain fellow feeling with Epiphany. No one can quite gear themselves up for another celebration, so soon after the big one. Of course, it’s great that the Three Kings showed up, but weren’t they in the crib at Christmas anyway? Haven’t we already done that?

But if Christmas is the end, it’s also the beginning. We may get our church seasons a bit mixed up (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, whatever), but the birth of Jesus, the incarnation of God, marks an end to our old life, and the beginning of our new one. This is the point at which everything changed. And from that moment on, right up until today, we’ve been trying to understand the implications.

Epiphany is a season of revelation – the revealing of God-come-down-to-earth to an ever-increasing circle of humanity, like a ripple spreading outwards in a pond. Shepherds, Gentiles, ordinary folks by the Jordan, wedding guests, sinners, tax collectors, the poor, the lame, the disfigured, the outcasts, the possessed, the starving, the prisoners, the unloved, the hated, the despised. And, eventually, all of us.

What does it mean, this birth, this revelation to ordinary humanity, that will lead to death on a cross? We’re still working on it. But make no mistake; this is the beginning – not the end – of something big. Happy Epiphany.

Revd Will Morris