Epiphany in the everyday

Professor Sarah Mortimer

Epiphany – the fierce brightness of the word seems to shine in our January gloom, conjuring images of divine revelation, of angels and stars, of the heavens opening with signs from above. Once it was an eight-day feast, celebrating the visit of the wise men and the baptism of Jesus, moments of meeting and encounter when the world was disrupted and divine power was manifest. The gospel writers tell us of the star in the east to the travelling Magi, of the voice from heaven over the river Jordan when John baptized Jesus, of the spirit descending as a dove.   In these moments, everything suddenly looked different, lit by a new certainty and clarity, thrown into a new perspective by a burst of divine radiance.

But this January, as we continue to battle the pandemic, restricting our contact and (for many of us) staying at home, it can feel like our horizons are narrowing, closing us in. The drama of epiphany, of travel and discovery, of new perspectives and sudden divine light – these seem far away from the reality so far of 2021.  We cannot travel continents; we cannot even gather by a river at the moment. Yet the regular, annual feast of the Epiphany reminds us too that it is not our adventures or efforts that bring God to us.  Perhaps we need only to be attentive, to the divine light around us and in each other, to find something still of that fierce brightness.