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St Matthews Church Oxhey Hertfordshire

Fr David's Sermon


8th January 2006

Fr David Shepherd

Epiphany

At New Year we are confronted with the truth about ourselves. After the Christmas festivities it is back to normal – back to work, back to school. When we look in our mirrors on these cold grey mornings we may not like what we see. We too look grey with extra pounds all to visible. Confronted with the truth we take stock & resolve – for a short time at least. We also become concerned about the future – what will a new year bring? Searching for the truth about human beings, about our present and our future, is popular at this time of year. People are less likely to search for this in orthodox religion, hence the growth of all kinds of strange beliefs and superstitions, sitting uncomfortably with scientific knowledge.

Also at the start of New Year comes the Feast of the Epiphany with its Gospel story of the Wisemen, the feast we celebrate today. Their strange story, without parallel in the New Testament connects in many ways with our contemporary New Year anxieties and searching after truth.

Properly Epiphany celebrates God in Christ in our midst. The truth has been revealed to us in the coming of Christ. It is there to be perceived. Our Prayer Book makes this clear by describing Epiphany, as the manifestation of Our Lord to the Gentiles. If the truth is revealed to us there is still a process involved in its reception. We see it in the story of the Wisemen – God in man was made manifest to them. Once again we can look more closely at the familiar story to discover its New Year message for us.

The Wisemen give us valuable clues as to how to live the Christian life. Like them we will be willing to search for the truth and travel to find it. Like them we will be critical of temporal power and unafraid of ridicule. We will be people who respond to God’s gifts in worship and by giving from our treasures. We will open to change as the way to life. At the start of a New Year the Epiphany Story of the Wisemen helps us in our search for truth. Through it we can others can reconnect to God in our midst, God in man, made manifest.

Amen

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