God humbled himself to meet us in the reality of ordinary, new-born life.

On January 6 the church celebrates Epiphany

Thursday, 5th January 2017, 5:38 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 4:48 am
Reverend Tom Robson


It’s not a word we hear very often.

But it’s probably an experience we’ve all had, even if we don’t call it that. A sudden understanding or realisation.

The most famous one is probably Archimedes in the bath, jumping out and shouting ‘Eureka.’ I don’t know whether that’s true or not, but it certainly makes for a good story.

It’s also the word used to refer to the visit of the mysterious wise men to the young Jesus.

It’s in Matthew's Gospel, and is described in carols, such as ‘We three Kings of Orient are…’

But, as has been widely noted, there’s a fair amount of artistic license in these words…

Were there three? It’s likely there were a lot more than that as they’d travelled a long way.

Were they kings? The original word is Magi, meaning some kind of priest or astrologer

Were they from the Orient? We’re told they came from the East, but nothing more specific than that.

Even subsequent revisions, may not have improved this particular carol’s historical accuracy.

‘one in a taxi, one in a car?’ – Sadly, we will never know for sure.

Interestingly, Jesus wasn’t the only person to receive a visit from Magi.

A group came to pay homage to the roman emperor Nero in AD66.

Also, the Jewish historian Josephus describes a visit from Magi to King Herod around 10 BC.

So, it must have seemed very odd to this group that their journey led them to a seemingly very ordinary family.

Yet that realisation was all part of their epiphany, their revelation.

That the one they’d come to see didn’t live in a palace or sit on a throne.

That if the Christmas story is to be believed, God humbled himself to meet us in the reality of ordinary, new-born life.

Those Magi saw that in Jesus, they had their epiphany, and they worshipped him with those famous gifts.

Perhaps there is still an epiphany to be had today.

Is this also just a good story for nativity plays?

Or perhaps there’s an epiphany for you in the significance of the baby worshipped by the Magi.

Faith Matters:

Bible in One Year

Produced by HTB Church in London, Bible in One Year is an app that takes you through the Bible with comments and explanation from Nicky and Pippa Gumbel. This could be an excellent way to find out more about the whole Bible story and is available in several different languages. More information is available from https://www.bibleinoneyear.org/

Social Action Recharge

From Monday 9th to Thursday 12th January 2017, Ashburnham Place is hosting Social Action Recharge: Father’s Heart for the Poor. There are buy 1, get 1 free day tickets available. Call 01424 892244 for more information.

‘Connection’ exhibition at Chichester Cathedral

Running throughout January, Chichester Cathedral is home to an extraordinary glass and light sculpture by the internationally successful artist Galia Amsel. This striking modern sculpture is suspended from the upper levels in the Cathedral’s baptistery and hangs gently above the font, an area used for baptisms and christening. This interesting artwork refers to the traditional use of stained/coloured glass in places of worship, where the light through the windows has historically served a dual purpose; firstly to light up the space within, and also to illuminate images and messages from spiritual texts.