On 6th January, the world wide Church celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany – marking the visitation of the Magi, or the three wise men, or the three kings.

The account is recorded in Matthew 2: 1-12

The Magi came from a different land, outside of Israel and made a difficult and long journey to find Jesus. When they found him, they worshipped him and offered gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Their story can speak to us of our own spiritual journey – and help us to reflect on the ways we have tried to seek, worship and follow Jesus.

Their journey helps us to think about all the journeys we are making in our life. Think about the journeys (spiritual, emotional, physical, geographical) you have made this year – and think about some of the reflective questions below. Allow God to speak to you through the story of the wise men and the journey you have made in 2018 and the journey you will make through 2019.

This season lasts until 2nd February in the Church Year and is a season when we think about Jesus being revealed in different ways and to different people.

Reflective questions for Epiphany

Take 10 minutes to be quiet and take some time to reflect. Perhaps light a candle and put some meditative music on. You’ll need a couple of sheets of paper and a pen.

Gifts for the journey ahead

We know little about the three wise men, but we can imagine pretty accurately that they would have needed courage and bravery and faith to make the journey to visit Jesus. Look back over the year that’s been and write on a piece of paper a few words that describe what characteristics you had to show in 2018 (e.g. patience, courage, perseverance). Then on a different piece (maybe cut into the shape of a star) think about what you might need in 2019. Ask God to help you. Pin the star up somewhere to remind you of your prayer.

He’s got the whole world in his hands

An important part of the story is that the wise men came from a different land – not Israel – and they were powerful sign that God’s love and the birth of Jesus his son, were not just good news for the Jews, but for the whole world. Think about places you’ve been during 2018 – is there somewhere special outside of London where you felt inspired or close to God. Write the name of a country/place that is precious to you, perhaps where you discovered something important about God in the last year – you can write more than one place. Spend some time reflecting, praying, giving thanks

An ‘aha’ moment

An epiphany is when you suddenly understand or see something in a new or very clear way – usually at a deep spiritual/emotional level. It’s a realization. The wise men realized that Jesus’ birth was very important and that he was the fulfillment of long ago prophecies. Perhaps in 2018 there was something key that you realised about God or Jesus or your faith. Perhaps you could write some thoughts about this and give thanks as you remember. Or perhaps there was something about the story of the three kings that struck you afresh when you read it.

Who did I miss?

The wise men would have left people behind when they made this journey – people they loved and whose absence made them sad. I wonder who you missed in 2018 – either through bereavement, separation or living in different countries. Light a candle for them and bring them prayerfully into God’s presence.

Prayers for Epiphany

God of heaven and earth,
you revealed your only Son
to every nation
by the guidance of a star.
Bless this home and all who live in it.
Fill us with the light of Christ,
that our compassion for others
may reflect your love.
We ask this through Jesus Christ who dwells among us.
Amen.

Loving God, visit this home and bless it.
May there be no evil here.
Let your holy angels dwell here
and keep all who live here in peace.
May you bless us, and all whom we love,
today and for evermore.
Amen

Poems for Epiphany

The Journey of the Magi

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The was deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty, and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the
darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we lead all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I have seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

T.S. Elliott

Carol of the Brown King

Of the three wise men
Who came to the King,
One was a brown man,
So they sing.

Of the three wise men
Who followed the star,
One was a brown king
From afar.

They brought fine gifts
Of spices and gold
In jeweled boxes
Of beauty untold.

Unto His humble
Manger they came
And bowed their heads
In Jesus’ name.

Three wise men,
One dark like me –
Part of His
Nativity.

Langston Hughes