Happy New Year to you all! And, I hope that this year will be a fantastic year for the church in general and this church in particular. What better way can there be to celebrate the start of a new calendar year than with a double celebration, for today we celebrate the Epiphany and Hannah’s baptism.
The gospel reading we have just heard – the story of the Epiphany – or the revelation of Christ as Messiah reminds us that the world is a divided place. In one corner we find the powerful and strong; those who seek to gain power through domination and subjugation. In the other corner we find the baby Jesus whose adult mission and ministry is to be concerned with freedom from oppression, liberation and affirmation. King Herod and his modern day heirs exercise their power through fear. Jesus of course wants us to throw off all fear. The Epiphany presents us with a choice: fear versus freedom and asks us what it is to be. When we become Christians we accept the latter choice. Not that it is easy, for life will continue to place challenges in our way. The message of the Epiphany is simple: whatever life is placing in your way, know this, your ultimate security, in fact your destiny, is in Christ. If we accept Jesus as our saviour, our Messiah, then all we are asked to do is make the same journey as the wise men. We are asked simply to follow, to give of our best and to be obedient to God’s calling on our lives. In this way we too become wise. One of the ways, perhaps the most obvious way that we accept God’s call on our lives and claim the Epiphany for ourselves is through baptism. Tonight at Evensong I will invite everyone to consider and ritually renew their own baptismal commitments. This morning I am going to baptise Hannah. It feels so right and fitting to baptise on the feast of the Epiphany.
Rev’d Andrew Lightbown