Church of England Diocese of Guildford Dunsfold


12 Jan 2021, 5 p.m.

In the northern hemisphere the New Year dawns at the darkest time of the year. It is also a very dark time for all of us as we are living with the restrictions necessary in order to bring the spread of Covid-19 under control. We don’t know when or how this phase will end. Living with uncertainty is very difficult.

We are in the middle of Epiphany, which is a season of uncertainty, beginning with the Feast of the Epiphany on 6 January and concluding with the Presentation of Christ in the Temple – on 2 February. Three themes are woven together throughout Epiphany all of which are about God making Christ’s presence real in uncertain times.

The first theme is the arrival of the visitors from the East, who took two years of travelling by night to find Jesus, far from the stable of his birth. The second recollection of God making the presence of Christ known was celebrated on the Sunday just past – the Baptism of Christ - and in the gospel reading we heard Jesus’ recollection of God telling him that he was God’s beloved. And the third theme which we’ll mark on the final Sunday of Epiphany is the wonderful account of ordinary water becoming extraordinary wine in the presence of Christ. God’s generosity indeed. And great uncertainty.

The magi followed a star they had seen rising and to follow a star the journey must take place at night, in the uncertain darkness. John the Baptist, whilst baptising for the repentance of sins, told the people, ‘there is one greater who is coming after me’, but he didn’t know who he was. There’d been many claiming to be Messiah. At Jesus’ baptism the uncertainty gave way to certainty. And too, at the wedding in Cana, the servants were simply told by an exasperated Mary to ‘do whatever Jesus tells you to do’. There was no certainty at all that there would be any wine of any quality, let alone the ‘best kept for last’.

Into human uncertainty God’s Christ comes. He is locked down with us; he is sad with us; he rejoices with us; weeps with us; and just sits in silence with us. Christ’s presence doesn’t make certain the uncertain, but it does mean that we’re never on our own. At a time when the one thing we may crave – engaging in real life with people we don’t live with – is the most important thing to go without, it is easy to feel alone, but we are not. May this season of Epiphany remind us of Christ’s presence with us in the ordinary as well as in the extraordinary.

Dean Dianna