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Posts Tagged "the Magi":

Ann Lewin, T S Eliot and Lancelot Andrewes on The Epiphany

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 It is a multi-layered story, as many of these birth narratives are, and three layers in particular draw our attention. First there is the nature of the visitors: Magi, astronomers from further EAst, led by a star to find a newly born king. They are often called Wise Men, but if we think about the nature of wisdom as the Bible describes it, that may not be the most suitable adjective to describe them. They were certainly clever, there is no doubt that they were well-versed in the study of the stars. But perhaps if they had been wiser they would have done a little research into the nature of the King this new-born child would replace….

There is nothing sentimental about our journey to make our offering. T S Eliot wrote memorably about the journey the Magi had ‘A cold coming we had of it‘, he began. He borrowed the words from a sermon preached by Lancelot Andrewes, one-time Dean of Westminster and Bishop of Chichester and Winchester, on Christmas Day 1622, in the presence of King James I. Andrewes said of the wise men:

A cold coming they had of it at this time of the year, just the worst time of the year to take a journey, and especially a long journey. The ways deep, the weather sharp, the days short, the sun farthest off, the very dead of winter. Venimus…. ‘we are come’…And these difficulties they overcome, of a wearisome, irksome, troublesome, dangerous, unseasonable journey, and all for this they came. And came it cheerfully, and quickly, as appeareth by the speed they made. It was but vidimus venimus, with them ‘they saw’ and ‘they came’ no sooner saw but they set out presently…they took all these pains, made all this haste that they might be here to worship Him with all the possible speed they could. Sorry for nothing so much as that they could not be there soon enough, with the very first, to do it even this day, the day of His birth…And we, what should we have done? Sure these men of the East will rise in judgement against the men of the West, that is with us, and their faith against ours in this point. With them it was but ‘vidimus venimus‘, with us it would have been but veniemus (we will come) at the most. Our fashion is to see and see again before we stir a foot, specially if it be to the worship of Christ. Come such a journey at such a time? No, but fairly have put it off to the spring of the year, till the days longer, and the ways fairer, and the weather warmer, till better travelling to Christ. Our Epiphany would sure have fallen in Easter week at the soonest.

Ann Lewin concludes her chapter:
“We are challenged by the Epiphany story to think about how willing we are to set out on the journey of offering ourselves to God.

What are the gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh that we have as individuals or groups/churches to offer to God in loving our neighbours?

What obstacles do we have to overcome in order to make our offering?

Come freshly to us now, Lord God,
and as we offer you our lives,
renew in us your gifts….

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