Did anyone here watch any television at all on Christmas day? Well I, alongside millions of others, watched the Queens Speech (after I had woken up from my early afternoon vicar’s nap) & Call the Midwife. The Queen, and the Sister Julienne, both display that most precious of virtues: wisdom. The Epiphany’s concern is also wisdom.
Wisdom is a complicated subject. In Christian terms, as I have said before, it involves developing the ability to see as God would have us see, to hear as God would have us hear, to feel as God would have us feel, and then to act as God would have us act. We can only do this of course when God, through the person of Jesus Christ, is in reality our Daily Bread. So the story of the Epiphany, first of all, invites us to renew our focus on Jesus and to make him the central character in the ongoing drama of our lives: just as those Wise Men did all those years ago. Christian wisdom boils down to this: growing into the very likeness of Christ, the Christ who ultimately always did the right thing, whatever the personal cost. Doing the right thing whatever the cost implies taking risks and making the right choices; a further attribute of wisdom. If wisdom begins with seeing, hearing and feeling as God would have us do, it ends with behaving and acting as God would have us do. Wisdom is God-centred and other-centred. Wisdom always means taking ‘the other road.’ The wise men do this at the culmination of Matthew’s Epiphany story, faced with the opportunity to gain earthly recognition and veign glory, by acquiescing to Herod’s tyrannical requests, they choose the ‘another road.’
In many ways the Queen and Sister Julienne are also exemplars of people who have chosen the ‘another road.’ They, like the Wise Men of Old, have made the decision to place Jesus at the centre of their lives and in so doing have come to realise that serving the needs of the other – constantly asking ‘who is my neighbour,’ - is the very essence, alongside praise and worship, of the Christian life. When we place Jesus at the centre of our lives we grow in wisdom and develop the ability to walk our lives along ‘another road.’ Christian wisdom is ultimately a commitment to giving our the best we have to offer to Jesus, just as the wise men did, and just as the Queen and Sister Julienne seem to have done. If we do this will grow in maturity and in love. As we learn to walk by ‘another road,’ guided by the ongoing and sustaining work of the Holy Spirit, our horizons will be stretched: we will start to see as God would have us see, hear as God would have us hear, feel as God would have us feel, worship as God would have us worship, choose as God would have us choose, and then, finally, serve as God would have us serve.
We will, if we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and offer back to him the very best of ourselves become, like the shepherds, like the Queen, and like Sister Julienne, truly and gloriously wise.