Pastoral Letter

Dear Friends

A very happy New Year to you all. As I write we are halfway through the Church season of Epiphany. What is Epiphany? The simplest explanation for me is that it is the season in which we recall moments in the life of Jesus that reveal who he really is. The season begins with the coming of the wise men, who arrived at Jesus’ house some two years after his birth. It was a moment of revelation for them, a wow moment if you like, that caused them to worship him and offer rare gifts. As we engage in that recollection, it can be a moment of revelation for us too.

In my own personal faith journey I have had many moments of revelation. That may sound rather grand but in fact it simply means that there have been many points at which I have seen or understood something about God or my life as if for the very first time, despite having sometimes known about it before. In reality most of us have epiphany, or ‘light bulb’ moments throughout our lives when something familiar takes on a surprising new aspect or meaning. It could be a sunset on a particular day, a butterfly in a particular light, an exchange between loved ones, a new born child, a helping hand from a neighbour or a spiritual insight. Perhaps the most endearing form of epiphany moment is when we see a child work out something or stumble upon a new insight for the very first time. Having three grandchildren I treasure these delightful moments.

Of course epiphany moments are not confined to the exciting and joyful junctures of our lives alone. Surprising, moving and profound insights can also be gained at the very lowest and saddest moments too. My year of being off work, though very challenging, yielded many moments of insight, probably because I had so much time to think and reflect. I remember also the amazing moments of insight even in the midst of the sadness of my mother’s death; insights that resulted in the recognition of what I had gained from her place in this world and feelings of gratefulness to God for the time that we had even though it seemed to be cut short. It didn’t stop my grieving but it certainly gave it meaning.

Although epiphany moments can happen in the midst of busy lives, it is my experience that most of them occur as we are engaged in meaningful conversation or in times of quietness and reflection. (As a follower of Jesus this is most often at prayer of when reading the Bible.) It is just an opinion but I suspect that this puts us in a receptive state of mind when it comes to seeing new things, encountering new possibilities and discovering new horizons. It has become important to me to make room for and value such opportunities because they often shape who we are for the better. It really is worth taking time, both individually and with those we trust, to look back with thankfulness to God and each other for the many epiphany moments we have encountered and to look forward to those that will emerge, bringing with them opportunities for growth in whatever aspect of our beautiful and complex lives has the need.

May God richly bless your searching and finding this year.
Stephen. 07943014277

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