Our Curate, the Reverend Dr Adrian Morgan, has used his New Year message published today in the Parish Magazine as an opportunity to challenge the people of Gorseinon to think carefully about the identity of Jesus.
Focusing on the Epiphany, he ponders the meaning of the phrase 'I had an Epiphany moment'. It speaks, he says, 'of a moment of significant revelation or understanding. A coming to really understand something.' The Epiphany for us, he says, is that 'God has come among us in the human person of Jesus Christ.'
Traditionally, the Epiphany is linked in Western Christianity with the visit of the Magi. Their visit, Dr Morgan says, helps us to understand the identity of Jesus as God and King, who would die for the sins of the whole world. He then challenges his readers to think about the significance of that Epiphany in their lives and encourages them to renew their faith, hope and trust in Jesus.
The full text of his message is below:
With the hustle and bustle of Christmas now behind us, we journey on through Epiphany. Many of you will be familiar with that well known phrase - “I had an epiphany moment” - that speaks of a moment of significant revelation or understanding. A coming to really understand something. The epiphany which has opened up before us is that God has come among us in the human person of Jesus Christ.
In Western Christianity, the Epiphany is linked with the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child. They ventured out in faith and followed the star to Bethlehem. There they found a baby wapped in swaddling cloth and laying in a manger. They realised that this baby was unlike any other, so they knelt down and worshiped him. They gave him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, no doubt carefully chosen to show that they had understood who Jesus really was and what he had come to do for them.
The gold, a rich and precious metal, reminds us that Jesus is a King. He is a King unlike any other. He was born in a stable, but is Sovereign over all the nations. The second gift, frankincense, was a perfume that they would burn in the temple to signify the presence of God. It reminds us that this King, Jesus, was in fact Emmanuel, God with us. Finally, the third gift, myrrh, was a kind of ointment that the Jews used to anoint a dead body. This reminds us that King Jesus, who is God with us, had in fact come to die for our sins. The latter part of this revelation will, of course, come to fruition as we soon journey on from Epiphany into Lent and Easter. Then our eyes will turn to the Cross, to the death of Jesus and his resurrection. That resurrection hope shows that God is able to bring light out of darkness and joy out of despair.
For the time being, however, we ponder the example of the Magi who, when they saw Jesus, realised that he was their King, their God and that he came to die for their sins. He came to die not only so that they might have forgiveness, but also so that they might have a relationship with a God who’s love would never fail them. Realising this, they bowed down and worshiped him, offering their gifts to his service. As we journey through the Epiphany together, I hope that we too might share the revelation of the Magi, putting all our faith, hope and trust in the one who is our God and King, Jesus Christ.
When we realise who Jesus really is, then we are encouraged to share that epiphany with others too. One way that we hope to do that this year is through Alpha, which begins on 18 January 2017 at 7pm. Alpha is a series of interactive sessions that freely explore the basics of Christian faith. Alpha is for anyone who is curious. The talks are designed to encourage conversation and explore the basics of the Christian faith in a friendly, open and informal environment. No question is out of bounds and you are free to discuss as much or as little as you wish.
Alpha is eight sessions with the option of a day away in the middle. Each session includes a hot home-cooked meal, a short video and a discussion at the end where you can share your thoughts. At any point, if you think Alpha isn't for you, that's no problem. There's no pressure, no follow up and no charge. I really hope that you will think about coming along, and that you may even think about bringing a friend or family member. You can find more details about Alpha here.
I wish you all a very happy and blessed New Year.