Dear Colleagues, Friends, Brothers and Sisters,
The Collect for the Feast of The Epiphany, today (as I send the letter) the 6th January, is
O God, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy only-begotten Son to the Gentiles: Mercifully grant, that we, which know thee now by faith, may after this life have the fruition of thy glorious Godhead; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
and the Collect for the first Sunday after the Epiphany is
O Lord, we beseech thee mercifully to receive the prayers of thy people which call upon thee; and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
As we have already seen, the Feast of the Circumcision recognises that the eternally begotten Son of God, who was born into manhood by a Jewish maiden of the House of Judah, was recognised as under the Covenantal Law of the Jewish people through the rite of circumcision, being also then named with the name JESUS (Yeshua or Joshua) that the Angel had instructed before the conception. Throughout the earliest days of His infancy He was recognised by some, for example by shepherds after the Birth and later by Simeon and Anna in the Temple, in a special way: thus He was manifested (by “epiphany”) to those of His own nation. This “epiphany” continued by the special divine manifestation at His baptism by John and through His presentation of the Kingdom of Heaven by His authoritative words and mighty works throughout His ministry in the land of Israel, culminating in the Atonement itself in fulfilment of Jewish Scripture. In the continuing Christian ministries to Jewish people that exist in the world, a work of epiphany of their Messiah to Jews continues to this day.
Our Prayer Book recognises the Feast of the Epiphany as in particular a manifestation to the Gentiles, as the words of the Collect for the Feast make clear: the first Gentiles in mind being the “wise Men”, traditionally (though not certainly) three of them from the East, who brought gifts to the one they sought. The epiphany to the Gentiles continues however to this day, as the church of God by the Lord’s grace expands throughout the world from biblical times until now.
There is a third group of people, who can claim to be neither Jew nor Gentile. This group is provided with a minor but significant role in the Gospels: we learn that there were groups of persons called “Samaritans”, who were descended from the people who were brought to live in the Northern Kingdom of Israel after its capture and dispersion by the Assyrian empire. Of them we learn that there was tension between them and their Jewish neighbours; that the Lord told a story about a “good Samaritan” who demonstrated a love and practical care for an attacked and dying Jewish neighbour: and that he ministered to a Samaritan woman the good news that salvation did after all come from the Jews and that He (“the one you are speaking to”) was the true Messiah. They also, then, were included in the Epiphany of the Lord to the world.
In our prayers, as is recognised by Sunday’s Collect, Christians of all nations and groups of people (Jewish, Samaritan and Gentile) pray for a continual epiphany of perception and knowledge of the things we “ought to do" and for “grace and power” to put that perception and knowledge into practice faithfully, “through Jesus Christ our Lord”.
For directions about the services this Sunday the 9th January 2022, the 1st Sunday after the Epiphany, please see the website www.TruthWithLanguage.com .
In faith in the holy Name of our Lord Jesus, who will continue to provide guidance by the Holy Spirit to all His people.