The Feast of the Epiphany - Reflection

’The Wise Men saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him.' Matthew 2:11

So I was talking to someone the other day and they said that they were really excited because they’d got tickets to go and see Taylor Swift. And I was lightly making fun of them because of the price of the ticket and I said something like “why don’t you just listen to them on the internet? Why are you paying through the nose for these expensive tickets, well over £100, when you could just hit play on a CD?” And they said “no, no, you don’t understand, it’s not the same as being there. It’s not the same as seeing and being in the room.” If we all think back a couple of years to the COVID lockdowns, you’ll remember some of the slightly older generation getting to grips with video calling for the first time. I remember everyone saying something like “it’s so good that we have the technology to do this but it’s just not the same and being in the room with your family.” It’s a part of being human, isn’t it? To want to experience things yourself, to want to see and feel and hold that thing. That’s why we pay to go to see our favourite musicians or comedians, or that big game. That’s why we travel to see people we love who have moved away. It’s important to be and experience for ourselves. After all, we’re human ‘beings’ not human ‘imagines’. Being in a place and with the people matters to us. Have you ever gone somewhere because ‘you just had to see it’ ‘you just had to be there.’ Sometimes I just have to get in my car and go to a forest or a mountain or the seaside because I just need to be there. Or have you ever had your child cry for you in the night, so you go and sit beside them and they go back to sleep quietly, like they know you’re there somehow, without even waking up? As though your very presence brings them calm? Maybe it’s the same for us. Maybe we’re meant to spend time just ‘being’ with God. Being is a big part of who we were created to be. When God made us he made us to see, to rest, to experience with Him.

We don’t hear much about what the Wise Men did when they visited Jesus, but what we do know is that they were drawn to go and be with Jesus in person. It wasn’t good enough to read about the importance of the star they saw, or to send messengers to bring Jesus his gifts. They had to go and be there themselves because getting up and going to find Jesus mattered. But the Wise Men didn’t just go and see Jesus did they? They came and worshipped Him. They brought Him gifts and knelt down before Him. It’s a bit like ‘being’ with God couldn’t help but lead to worshipping Him. When you spend time in the company of God you come away wanting to give him your best, wanting to kneel down and love and worship him. I suspect that if you don’t feel like worshipping God, it’s probably because you’ve not spent time in His presence, you’ve not spent the time ‘being’ with Him. Certainly, I’ve felt like that at times in my own life. When I’ve been all ‘go, go, go’ and not made time to just be with God, I’ve struggled to worship Him. Whereas the more time you spend with God the more you want to give him the best you have to offer, the more you want to bow down and worship Him. Sometimes I rush about trying to do everything myself and I push and push myself to do more and more and it’s never quite enough. But just as we’re not human ‘imaginings’, neither are we human ‘doings.’ We’re not created to just endlessly ‘do’. We’re human beings, created to be.

Do you ever make time to spend with God? Like put it in your diary as time to pray or read the bible or listen to some hymns? And even then, I don’t know about you but when I sit down to pray, I’m sometimes still on ‘go, go, go’ mode and trying to ‘do’ things myself. The number of times I come to God with a list so long that if I’m going to get through it in time to eat my breakfast I have to pray like an auctioneer…But when I do that, I’m not really praying, I’m not really spending time with God, I’m not really listening to him. I’m not really ‘being’ I’m still trying to do it all myself. Or perhaps you’re not there yet, perhaps you haven’t yet put the time in your diary to pray and read the bible at all. Perhaps you’re too busy? Well whenever I’ve been too busy, the busier I’ve been, the more I’ve found that praying has given me back time and energy. It’s almost like we were created to be with God, and that that gives us energy. Martin Luther famously once said he was too busy not to pray, and John Wesley was attributed with saying “I pray for one hour every morning before I begin my day. Unless I’m really busy. Then I pray for two.” We need to spend time with God, and then we’ll be filled with the life to worship him.

Now, believe me, I’ve had some hard times. I sit with people through the worst of times. Actually I remember speaking with a man who I volunteered with in a church in Dudley, called Hughie Treasure, and Hughie was an amazing guy. Hughie had lost his son to cancer at 11 years old. Now, anyone who’s known even a small amount of that feeling, of losing someone like that, knows how angry you feel when that happens, but Hughie was different. He was heartbroken, don’t get me wrong, but he was still lovely with everyone around him and still came to church and spent more time with God than nearly anyone else I’ve ever known, and one day I asked him, I was quite young at the time, about 19, I asked him “how is it, after you’ve lost what you’ve lost, that you still have the faith you have?” He answered with a smile “Because I know exactly where my son is. He’s with God.” And so Hughie spent his time with God too. There’s never a reason why you can’t spend time with God. The more hurt you are, the more busy you are, the more you need to spend time with God, and just ‘be’ with him. If you were married and you were struggling you wouldn’t say let’s spend less time together because we’re too busy, you’d make the time. You should always make time to be with God.

So, brothers and sisters. I want to encourage you to be like the Wise Men, to seek out God, to go and be with Him, to spend time with Him every day. And if you already spend time with God, then I encourage you to spend that time, really listening to God, every day. Amen (from Fr Jordan).