We are now in the middle of the season of Epiphany. Christmas has flown by!  In the UK Epiphanytide doesn’t get much of a good press. Once Christmas day is over and the easter eggs are in the shops no one seems to remember the wise men, or the magi as they are often called.  Yet Epiphanytide is just as magical as Christmas in its own way….stars twinkling their starlight across the universe and through the night skies, mysterious visitors bearing precious gifts; and the gradual revelation and recognition of a life changing story.

Starlight is a good metaphor – it comes from a different place and the journey from there to here is a long one! Its amazing to think that starlight travels 6 trillion miles a year to get to us (1 light year) and the nearest star to planet earth is Proxima Centauri, a cool six light years away.

Just as amazing is the thought that the stars hold within them secrets of the origins of the universe. Those wise men really were wise, they got it right all those years ago.

Carl Sagan famously revelled in the fact that ‘we are starstuff”, because, as science has proved, we are literally made of  stardust that came into being at the time of the big bang. Scripture got it right too when it described how we were made from dust of the earth – its origins are the same.  Whatever/whoever (God) called into being the big bang, also gave us a deep connection to everything else within the universe. Its incredible to think that written inside of each of us is the blueprint for the  birth of the solar system,  and even the workings of the planet itself.

Joni Mitchell once sang:


I came upon a child of God

He was walking along the road

And I asked him ‘where are you going?”

And this he told me…


We are stardust

We are golden.

And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.


Then can I walk beside you?

I have come here to lose the smog

And I feel you to be a cog in something turning.


Well maybe it is just the time of year, or maybe  its the time of man.

I don’t know who I am

But you know life is for learning.


We are stardust,

We are golden

And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.


Written in 1969 after the war years, when things were picking up a bit, the song seemed to suggest there was  answer to  the western world’s loss of innocence, and look forward to a return to the peace and justice of the garden of Eden. Of course it hasn’t happened, there are as many human conflicts as there ever were, yet somewhere in all of us, whatever our age, there is a deep longing to be free of troubles that weigh us down .

So the season of Epiphany, when we are thinking about how the star guided the wise men to the stable in Bethlehem,   is a good time to think about who we are and where we fit in to the grand scheme of things. Its very clear that the writers of the bible believed that the biggest gift humankind has been given has been Jesus, who because he was both human and divine knows all the parts of the story. Jesus who came to show us the face of God and to  to help us appreciate that God loves us so much that he would do anything to enable us to find our way back into that garden.

That ‘anything’ is the story we will be following through Lent and Holy Week up to Easter.

But put simply, Jesus himself  had a straightforward but effective (and challenging) strategy for getting there.

‘Love God, and love your neighbours as yourself. ‘

Even the story of the Epiphany embodies the message. The wise men of the story were people from far away, from a different culture and place, and yet they have a valued place in the story of christianity. A reassurance if we need it that in the history of human/divine relations there is a place for everyone.  Every  person is important to God.

Its never been more relevant and more obvious than it is today, for everyday we are faced with stories of our neighbours across the world from different cultures and places and challenged to make their stories part of ours.  Who said that the bible is not relevent anymore!!! In reality, there’s nothing new under the sun!

It just sometimes takes us a long while to recognise it.



Author: Lynn Smith

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