Once we understand that epiphany everything else that happens in the life of Jesus Christ and in our lives falls into place. Once we realise, once we truly SEE- because epiphany is always about seeing, about the light bulb moments of our lives - once we truly see that the incarnation is all that truly matters, then everything else makes sense...
God is not just an idea, to be argued over and kept in our control by our descriptions and prescriptions. God is to be experienced - and a new experience can change everything. Let's just think about the experience of those Magi from the gospel story, who are exemplary for us.
They came from 'the east'. That is to say they were foreigners, non Jews. They relied on the knowledge they had of the stars and their movements and they trusted their limited experience enough to interrupt their lives and set out to encounter the new king to whom they believed the star would lead them.
Sadly most of the time I do not think we are like the Magi. I think if our skills and talents lead us in a direction that seems likely to involve change and discomfort we are inclined to ignore the invitation. Most of the time, even given new insight from God, we can be inclined to decide to stay home, not trust the 'star' and resist changes to our experience.
The Magi are different. They risk being out of control. They set out, they follow the star, they make mistakes, but they carry on being faithful until they have an experience of God in Christ that changes everything- their religion, their politics, their whole world order. Then they trust their dreams - now there is an old bit of technology! - and find themselves going back by an entirely different route- a route that not just keeps them and the baby safe, but a route that expresses the symbolic reality that they are entirely different people from those who set out.
Can we be like them? I believe we can, but only if we are prepared to fully accept the epiphany that they received. As Richard Rohr so succinctly puts it, "If God can be manifest in a baby in a poor stable for the unwanted, then we had better be ready for God just about anywhere and in anybody." This is the reality that the Epiphany makes clear. God is no longer to be confined to temples and churches. God is not just for high days and holidays - important though these can be as a reminder of God's presence with us. God is for all times and all places, and IN all times and all places, and especially, most especially, in the ones we do not expect or value highly.
I hope that we will all experience God more richly this year. Not as a kind of add-on or sideshow to our lives, but as the main event, as the most important happening on our calendar. For that to happen we will need to trust - trust that in fact as Paula d'Arcy writes. 'God comes to you disguised as your life.' And therefore our lives are very important. Our lived experience is sacred because that is where we meet with God. So, as is said before just about every epiphany in the Bible, 'Do not be afraid'. God is not an angry tyrant to be appeased by our good behaviour. God so longs for relationship with us that God's greatest epiphany, God's greatest showing of Godself to us, was as a helpless infant. So do not be afraid. Expect that God will make Godself known to you as you live your life this year. Expect that you will change as a consequence of that encounter, and that changing will be okay, even if it is difficult or painful at the time. Expect that God who is incarnate in you and those you encounter, will also be crucified, raised and ascended in you and in them. And above all in all circumstances give thanks, that God is revealed to us in Jesus Christ, who was born, died and was raised to bring us all to the fullness of life in God. Amen
by Penny Jones, for Epiphany 2016