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Journey to Epiphany


At Epiphany Anglicans (Episcopalians) and Roman Catholics pray variations of the following collect/opening prayer:

O God,
by the leading of a star
you manifested your only Son to the Peoples of the earth:
Lead us, who know you now by faith,
to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

IMO attempts at dating the “star” miss the story’s point that it moved in a quite un-astronomical way to indicate the birthplace precisely. Those readers here interested in exploring at least one theory might go here.

Personally, I am more interested in allowing the story to fully impact me, rather than get too heated about historical details (interesting though they be) that will not impact and transform my life. So as we leave the Year of Our Lord 2009 for AD 2010, I pray all visitors here God’s richest blessing, and leave you with the strong poem Journey of the Magi by T. S. Eliot .

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

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3 thoughts on “Journey to Epiphany”

  1. Richard Catterall

    Thanks. I also love that poem – remember studying it in 7th form and being interested in the obscure quotation at the start. Epiphanies do leave unease. And that gets me up and in action instead of moping about. Happy New Year.

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