Monday, 3 January 2011


Most of us have, at some point in our lives, experienced the ‘nightmare’ journey. The theme of difficult journeys came across very strongly in the recent BBC production of ‘The Nativity’. Scriptwriter Tony Jordan retells the story of Jesus’ birth in a number of stories showing different journeys. There is Mary and Joseph’s physical journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem and Joseph’s journey to faith as he finally accepts Mary’s account of her pregnancy. There is the faith journey of Thomas, a shepherd, and the epic journey of the Magi, or Wise Men, as they make their way to Bethlehem from the East.

The philosopher and theologian Claire Foster-Gilbert talks about the journey of the Magi in these terms, ‘the journey prepares one for this extraordinary moment of light – the Epiphany’. Epiphany is simply a religious way of saying that something has been revealed, made visible, and she makes the point that just as the journey for the Magi was difficult, so for us there are things that have to be worked at - they can take time. As she says, ‘there are dark times in the journey as well but you keep going’. Tony Jordan illustrates this beautifully as we follow the Magi and see, not just the difficulty of their journey but the times of reflection and preparation during it.

And we see the moment when the Magi have their Epiphany, when they kneel before the infant Jesus and understand that all the light, wisdom and power of God are concentrated before them in the tiny vulnerable baby. Claire Foster-Gilbert describes it in these words, ‘We call it Epiphany – the “ah” moment. Suddenly realising something, suddenly understanding something, suddenly seeing something orients us, shows us the right way to look. It is a profound relooking which sets us in a new direction.’

Perhaps something in the Christmas story this year has spoken to you of a need to relook, to take a new direction in your life? God never promises anyone an easy journey but one of the names of the infant Jesus is ‘Immanuel’, which means ‘God with us’. We do not journey alone, God walks with us. Why not join with us as we journey together into this new year?