Epiphany: we need another way

What I didn’t write in the parish newsletter

This Sunday, we celebrate the arrival of the Wise Men at the manger; the completion of many a Christmas tableau.

On Christmas Eve, we pondered a moment how the birth of a child is always revolutionary. Whether it changes the succession of the royal throne or simply the direction of its parent’s affection, it always wreaks havoc on the settled order of those surrounding it.

In the biblical story, Herod was unsettled, and wrought havoc on those within his reach in order to shore up his own throne and exercise his own rage. Still, we borrow the story of the Holy Innocents to describe the tragedies and atrocities of our own time: the children separated from their families, the children imprisoned, the children dying at our southern border. Authorities more concerned with their own security and rage, more intent on funding walls than finding help, exacerbate the situation, we are told [1]. A world away from the desert, families spent Christmas stranded at sea, denied a safe harbour by a continent unsettled at their advent [2]. In our streets, in our houses, children are maimed and murdered by the incurious, impassive, inanimate availability of guns [3]. The madness of King Herod has not yet found its cure, nor learned submission to the kingdom of God.

Christmas is not a holiday from these realities. The Incarnation is not an excuse to look away. The coming and going of the Magi at Epiphany reminds us that after we have spent our moments lost in wonder at the Christmas Incarnation, the time comes to recognize the havoc that Herod still wreaks in the world and in the lives of the children of God and humanity.

When the wise men left the manger, they were warned not to return to their country by the same road. The birth of Jesus had changed everything between here and home, and they needed to find a new way. If we are wise, we will follow their example, for the sake of the Holy Innocents; for the sake of Christ’s infant innocence.

[1] “Border Patrol has come under heavy criticism over the deaths of two Guatemalan children. In the wake of the second death, Nielsen ordered that all children be given a medical screening after they are apprehended. McAleenan acknowledged the capability to provide medical support will be hampered if the government shutdown becomes lengthy.” – More children arriving very sick at the US border, by Carol Morello, for the Washington Post

[2] “Already on Saturday, the crew of the Sea-Watch 3 has saved 32 people from drowning, including four women, three unaccompanied minors, two young children and a baby. Five countries (Italy, Malta, Spain, Netherlands, Germany) refused to take responsibility and grant the rescued a port of safety for Christmas.” – Sea-Watch.org

[3] Watch this telling video from the End Family Fire campaign

About Rosalind C Hughes

Rosalind C Hughes is a priest and author living near the shores of Lake Erie. After growing up in England and Wales, and living briefly in Singapore, she is now settled in Ohio. She serves an Episcopal church just outside Cleveland. Rosalind is the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing , and Whom Shall I Fear? Urgent Questions for Christians in an Age of Violence, both from Upper Room Books. She loves the lake, misses the ocean, and is finally coming to terms with snow.
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1 Response to Epiphany: we need another way

  1. Pingback: Friday Festival: Epiphany Comes *Every* Year – RevGalBlogPals

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