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Epiphany – God got out of the box

January 5, 2013

The feast of the Epiphany brings the wise men centre stage. I know that for most people they have been part of the scene for over a month now, but if you follow the Gospel stories then it is only much later that these strange figures arrive at Bethlehem. Jesus is no longer a baby and the family have now settled in Bethlehem, so no stable. 

With the wise men I’m reminded that the story of Jesus’ birth is not just for one people, the Jews. Jesus is for all people, of all races and from all lands. God has become one of us, to make it possible for us to become one with God. But it is more personal than that, God has become like me so that I can become like God; God has become like everyone so that you anyone/everyone can become like God.

The coming of the wise men reminds me that the love of God is given to all. God is not limited to our church, God is not limited to the Church. God will and does work perfectly happily with people who know nothing of the Church or of Christianity.

This insight is something that I need to keep in mind at all times. It is not enough for me to plan and share the love of Jesus with other people as if he had never met them. My task is to listen to the Spirit so that I can recognise what God is doing in each person that I meet. It is only then that I don’t dive in with both feet and mess up all that God had been doing. I am never apologetic about my faith but I do tread carefully when discussing that faith with Christians or non-Christians. I am feeling my way forward, seeking for the connection where the Spirit working in me meets the Spirit working in them. Then God can speak through me.

I know the power of this reality from my own conversion. I became a Christian in my late teens when studying Chemistry at Liverpool University. Before university I thought Christianity was a pointless relic of the crumbling class system. It had had its day but was now completely irrelevant to modern life. And being irrelevant, I just ignored Christianity, and left it to die quietly somewhere out of sight.

I had no interest in Christianity but I had lots of interest in women. So, I was attracted to a Christian Union event by the number of pretty women there. I stayed because I made friends, friends who cared about me. I never remember being compelled to accept anything, rather I was given the space to explore Christianity; to ask questions and consider answers. No one pushed me but after several months, the Spirit open my eyes and reality suddenly got a whole lot bigger.

When that happened, when I finally came to a faith, it was not that I first met God; It was more that I suddenly realised that God had always been with me, but I just didn’t recognise him.

That was my first Epiphany. My first realisation that God’s work on earth included me.

That is why I look for the signs of God’s work in all people, Christian or non-Christian. It is a skill that I’m learning, I’m far from perfect at it but I keep trying. I can’t always see it, I can’t always see what God is doing in a person. But often I can, or just as often, I don’t see it but later discover that God has still used me to say the right things.

Jesus came for all people, and God works in all people:

 

The Nail Man by Steve Turner

 

Which one was it

that held the nails

and then hammered them

into place?

 

Did he hit them

out of anger,

or a simple

sense of duty?

 

Was it a job

that had to be done,

or a good day’s work

in the open air?

 

And when they

clawed past bone

and bit into wood,

was it like all the others,

or did history

shudder a little

beneath the head

of that hammer?

 

Was he still there,

packing away his tools,

when ‘It is finished’

was uttered to the throng,

or was he at home

washing his hands

and getting ready

for the night?

 

Will he be

among the forgiven

on that Day of Days,

his sin having been slain

by his own savage spike?

 

The Epiphany means that the love of God in Jesus is for all people, even the man who nailed Him to a Cross. Epiphany means that God’s love is for all parts of society. That is why we pray not only for the Church but also for the world, for the welfare of those without faith as well as for those with faith. That is why Foodbank is for all people who need it, not just hungry Christians.

I’m not shy about your faith, I don’t hide it away. It could be a conversation  that opens someone’s eyes to God working within them. It could be a Christian who recognises some new work of the Spirit in them. It may be a non-Christian who catches a glimpse of God working in their life.

I have found that it’s important to be open about your faith, not brash or overbearing, but open and sensitive and caring. A gentle open faith is very attractive, it can be infectious, it is also a very powerful agent for good in the world.

So this Epiphany, I remember that Jesus came to bring hope and oneness with God to the whole world. God is working in me, God is working in everyone, God is working in all of his creation, — what a wonderful message to share with our fractured world!

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2 Comments
  1. Dianna permalink

    Amen Lord that’s my prayer that I will see You at work in the lives of all Your people.

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