Feast of the Epiphany
This Sunday is the Feast of the Epiphany. The story of the wise men from Matthew 2: 1-12 has been the inspiration for many artists, poets and theologians over the 2,000 years of Christian history.
The wise men represent our yearning for God, that desire that each of us is born with to experience the infinite in this finite world. T.S. Eliot captured this longing beautifully in his famous poem, The Journey of the Magi, written in 1927, a year after he began an intentional journey of Christian faith.
I encourage you to read the text at http://www.incarnationsantarosa.org/_media/pdf/TS.Eliot.pdf as you listen to him reading it on a 1940s BBC Radio broadcast at https://www.poetryarchive.org/poem/journey-magi
Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has this to say about Eliot's poem. This is good food for thought as we prepare to for Sunday.
What happens when a birth - Jesus's 'birth', as the poet starts re-discovering Christian faith - changes everything? The bizarre fact is that it can feel as if nothing has really changed, except that you have a sense that no one else has noticed what has happened - because something certainly has. 'Birth or death?' A new start that is felt only as the death of all that has been familiar; and yet the old world goes on, galloping aimlessly like the old white horse. Eliot never wanted to present religious faith as a nice cheerful answer to everyone's questions, but as an inner shift so deep that you could hardly notice it, yet giving a new perspective on everything and a new restlessness in a tired and chilly world. The flatness of the rhythms and phrasing, the utterly prosaic way of describing a miracle, all contribute to what turns out to be an intensely imagined and challenging poem that I first read as a boy and that still moves and disturbs me as much as it did then.
Yours in Christ,