Happy New Year, and perhaps more importantly, happy Epiphany! The celebration of Christmas and Epiphany only came about in the Fourth Century. Until then the need to celebrate the Incarnation, the Coming in Flesh of the Son of God, had not really entered people’s minds. It was mainly because of a heresy prevalent at the time – Arianism – that the feast of Christmas and Epiphany became key moments in the liturgical life of the Church. Arianism said that the Son of God was not God, or at least an inferior form of God compared to the Father, and that he came to exist in time. So the Church began to celebrate the Incarnation, the Coming in Flesh of the eternally begotten Son of God in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Thus in Jesus Christ we behold the Son of God become man for our salvation.

For some time in the early middle ages the feast of the Epiphany began to take precedence. It was a feast with a triple meaning – the Incarnation of the Son of God, the showing of the Saviour to the Gentile World (hence the Three Wise Men) and the Baptism of the Lord in the Jordan. Then it became the final feast of the Christmas season which began on December 24 and continued right through until January 6 – Twelfth Night.

So we have a wonderful period full of celebrations, full of meaning, full of different and varied holy people and events. However, the key to them all is the Coming in Flesh of Jesus Christ, Son of God, Son of Mary who through his life, death and resurrection brings us salvation and the promise of eternal life.

But to all who did accept him

he gave power to become children of God,

to all who believe in the name of him

who was born not out of human stock

or urge of the flesh

or will of man

but of God himself.

The Word was made flesh,

he lived among us(John 1.12-14)

Yes, but we have to accept him and believe in his name. It isn’t magic; it isn’t a fairy tale; it isn’t automatic. We have to accept and believe. To accept means to open our hearts, our minds, our spirit, our lives to him. We have to allow, welcome him to enter into our very depth. He has to be placed at the centre of all we are and all we do. We have to believe in him, commit ourselves to him as a person, alive and active in each of us now, alive and active in our world today. Our celebration can’t be just about something in the past, it must celebrate the state of our lives, of our world NOW, TODAY.

Has Jesus Christ come into your life anew this Christmas and Epiphany-time? Have you accepted him and believed in his name? Has the Word become flesh in you? Does the Word of God live among you? Yes or no? Has it just been a tinsel Christmas or a real one?

Yours in blessed hope,