..feast of the Epiphany..arrival of the three wise men from the east.. Epiphany “showing” of infant Messiah to all nations.. where every nation & creed, as well as those labelled faithless, are welcomed to “come & see” ..& instead of three kings, if I told you it was three migrants from the east in a fragile inflatable just beached at Folkestone, would your attitude towards them change I wonder?
“..star of wonder, star of night, guide us & them to your perfect light” ; Lord have mercy “..you who believe may be sure you have eternal life” ; Christ have mercy “..a passport, your & theirs..kings, rank & file & migrants..stamped with our common accreditation .. “believer”.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
“we saw his star as it rose & we have come to do him homage” ..Tony Jordans BBC production “Jesus of Nazareth” shows real leap of faith when wise colleagues of the three explorers in their school of astrology considered them foolish & mistaken..more they did the calculations, read sky & the tea leaves, more convinced they were they had to set out.. as you, each of you,this morning/evg had set out to come here, possibly against your better judgement or on automatic pilot?..in BBC film, magi’s journey full of risk danger & secrecy deceiving Herod’s border guards & our Border Agency’s three cutters, & slipping into alien territory, such was their thirst their faith their belief in something out there beyond all imaginings & solid certainties, &star stops over stable, & Joseph at last, after weeks of dallying & fretting in self pitiful distance from his bride to be, takes her outstretched desperate hand in her final moments of labour, as prostitute tending her, her fellow fallen companion, shouts to Joseph to get real..the breakdown is healed, her waters break & God is made man..I dare you to watch it 8/10 times & not to be brought to tears by the moment..never a repeat always “stargazing live”..have you been tracking the New Horizons space probe over New Year?..an epiphany, an army of scientists astrologists, wise men & women..the space probe launched 2006..flew past Jupiter Feb 07; Saturn Jun 08; Uranus Mar 11; Neptune Aug 14; Pluto July 15 & now meeting Ultimate Thule in Kuiper belt Jan 19..6.5bn km from earth..science astrology still breaking new ground in a universe created sustained by a God who chose to become flesh on this, one of his tiniest planets, 2000yrs ago, in beings he created in his image & likeness, with the potential to become, not just like him, but part of him “God is with us” Emmanuel, the Christ child is born for us, the great proclamation of Christmas..& taken further deeper by St John “the Word was made flesh & lives among us” among us incarnationally in each of us..not just in space between us but in us..the divine indwelling in thee & me..flesh in the infant in manger, flesh in an overloaded dinghy in migrants/foreigners who come to see, to do us homage/respect, not to take dominate sponge or control but, like Christ child, to give from little they have..on BBC news last week spokeswoman for Migrant Watch reminded us powerfully they are not arriving here illegally..they have a right as refugees to come here & seek asylum..if only our Catholicism was similarily open to the divorced & remarried being welcomed back into full Communion with us, instead of them being left feeling this Church is a holding centre, as their case is fully meticulously considered by a church process taking longer than it takes for New Horizons to reach Pluto..& how do they feel? have you asked them? what gift will you give them as you approach the infant Jesus in them? “Lord when did we not welcome you at Folkstone, or to this stable & a full share in our meal at this manger?” remember the gospel imperative of love care & sanctuary especially towards the weakest & most vulnerable..20yrs ago spent Christmas with our Community in Zimbabwe..Christmas afternoon Fr Robert & Fr Barnabas invited me to join them in walking to local township to visit poorest of poor..no men to be seen all gone to beer hall for day..as we approached one rondavel [mud hut/ straw roof] children ran to greet us shouting jumping for joy..Mum disappeared inside; she emerged 2mins later in her very best Sunday best to greet us three kings..beckoned us inside to sit at table; an old orange box three stools..oldest child brought out their one Christmas treat; all they could afford, to go alongside their one meal of sadza..a bottle of orange squash.. squash not pure juice..& three glasses..Fr Robert whispered “she’d be offended if we didn’t take some”..a eucharist “take this all of you..all of you..& drink from it..this is my blood..poured out for you & for many “ many, as many as take up the divine invitation & follow the star..do this in memory of me”..we left them “to return to our own country” our own way of life up until then “by a different route”..leaving them elated, eight of them, with half empty bottle of orange squash but with a taste & story now to die for..of an Epiphany, a showing of the Christ child, to three wise monks who’d travelled over 3000 miles to discover one of finest stables & mangers you could ever hope to find..if you begin to look up & notice the star..tragically we find ourselves in midst of a disaster called Brexit, as we distance ourselves from our European brothers & sisters in Christ & our fellow migrants in Christ ..a disaster..did you know word “disaster” comes from Gk astro/ aster/ astrum/ astra?..it literally means dis-aster “to fall away from the star” to lose sight & faith in our star, the Light of the World, & in one another, losing leaking the spirit of mutual service that binds us together..& so pray when will the Epiphany really happen? currently in limbo in space..awaiting a change of heart in our own Herod’s in government Church & locality, who fear losing control & credibility; their change of heart, & ours, which will allow our wise visitors, our brothers & sisters in Christ, to be welcomed & cradled..with their gold frankincense mryrhh & orange squash..where, then there & now, there is only one real gift “what can I give him poor as I am..if I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb; if I were a wise man I would do my part..yet what I can I give him, I give him & you my heart” [ Epiphany Mt 2;1-12 ]