Dear Colleagues,

The season of Epiphany has begun (with the beginning of it yesterday as I write) and my letter begins with copying to you the thoughts of our Diocesan Bishop Robert in his Epiphany letter, which arrived in my inbox on Sunday:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord
Jesus Christ.

When I was young, (as I have said many times before,) the three
great sins were: murder, theft, and adultery.  Telling lies and disobeying
parents were up there too, as well as swearing.  These days, the three great
mortal sins are: racism, sexism, and homophobia.  Ableism and ageism are
where lying and disobedience once were; and "transphobia" - whatever that
may mean - is now making its way to the top as well.

We were told very clearly and certainly that before the days of
tribulation that would presage the Second Coming of Our Lord, there would
first be a "falling away" or great apostasy.  And this is one of the
prophecies that can only apply to a distant time from its utterance because
when it was made, the Gospel had only just gone forth into the world.  That
it applies to a time distantly future from then is that in it is implied
that the world at that time would have been recently a predominantly
Christian world in those lands wherein the "gentiles" or "nations" dwelt and
in those lands which would be subject to them.  And presuming that the "time
of the gentiles" had been fulfilled, then would follow the falling away.
And with those who have been given eyes with which to see, and ears with
which to hear, it is obvious that we are in that prophesied time right now.

And in that time, we are told, those who refuse to see or hear, and
will not believe the testimony of the Gospel, they will be sent "strong
delusion" that they "may believe a lie."  And as we are surrounded today by
multitudes of deluded souls, and beset about with untold numbers of lies,
perhaps the greatest of these are those which remove personal responsibility
away from people, and instead excuse them by making them appear victims
rather than sinners.  Instead of teaching our children that they are to be
virtuous and do good, and that evil deeds and bad behaviour deserve
objectively to be punished and corrected, the world today teaches them that
they are special and precious and anything that makes them feel unhappy or
unsafe is the greatest of evils.  And so, how we feel is far more important
than what we do.  And as this madness rises to replace our foundational
Christian assumptions of morality and social ethics, we find ourselves
unable to distinguish right from wrong; and terrible sins are ignored and
even, in some instances, applauded, and frivolous and meaningless
infractions are met with disgust and unreasonable outrage.

And in this crazy "new normal" in which we find ourselves, important
and essential truths are not imparted to the Christian faithful, let alone
to the secular world; and ignorance and darkness are descending upon our
society (I will not say any longer civilisation) as the light of truth is
extinguished because people are afraid to speak openly lest they be
ridiculed, ostracised, or even attacked for so doing.  And so, we cannot
speak about the atrocity of abortion without being condemned as sexist; we
cannot address issues regarding culture and social norms without being
condemned as racist; we cannot instruct in matters of sexual morality and
practice without being condemned as homophobic.  In fact, so utterly insane
has the world around us become, that today we were told on the news that
words such as "mother" and "father", "sister" and "brother", "son" and
"daughter" may no longer be used publicly in the legislative assemblies of
the United States of America because they are "gender specific" and
therefore discriminatory and sexist.  And while most sane people will
realise that this is quite beyond anything reasonable, nevertheless they are
so cowed by the violence of the secular humanist liberal [sic] Left that
they are terrified to speak out.

For Christians, this is truly the great "sign of the times" because
it attacks us at the very heart of our being.  The whole point of the
Christian Faith is that "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and we
beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of
grace and truth."  In Christ was manifested the glory of the Godhead.  As
Saint Paul tells us, "in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead
bodily."  And we are commissioned by Christ to go "into all the world, and
preach the gospel to every creature" for "he that believeth and is baptised
shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."  That means that
at the very centre of our Christian life is the need not only to believe,
but also to share the Faith with others that they too may be saved.  But in
this we are now being prevented from fulfilling our commission.  So strong
has the opposition become in the world to silence the voice of truth that
fines and gaol sentences can be the reward for witnessing to Jesus Christ
and the Christian Faith in public.

People complain about the growing crime rates and the prevalence of
the criminal element in society.  Why do they complain?  What do they
expect?  If "religion" and "religious ideas" are to be excluded from the
schools, the workplace, the legislatures and courts of the land, how will
our people know that it is absolutely wrong to kill unborn children, murder
people, steal cars, cheat on taxes, have sexual relations outside of
marriage, and to abandon their aged parents to the care of others for pay?
And it doesn't take an Einstein to predict where this will all lead.  If it
is bad now, and this downward course continues uncorrected and the evil
unabated, the prediction that "in those days" there "shall be great
tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time,
no, nor ever shall be" will be realised in short order.

The wise men left their homelands to seek the Saviour, to follow His
star which they had seen in the east.  They were "gentiles", those who
descend from Abraham but not from Jacob.  They had not the law, but were "a
law unto themselves."  They sought for God, and they found Him in the Person
of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  And when they saw Him, they worshipped Him, and
paid to Him their tribute on behalf of their peoples.  And in that, they
were changed.  And as we are told that they returned home "another way", so
we might easily take this to mean that spiritually they did not go back to
their old lives, but went on a different course entirely that would finally
lead them to eternal salvation and a new life in Christ.

And this is the power of the Gospel: to save souls, to change lives,
and to make all things new.  And if we allow ourselves to be cowed, to be
silenced, to be fearful of our calling, then we are doing the work of Herod.
We become complicit with him in working to extinguish the light, to find it
and put it out, for fear that in its brilliance all the lies, and
falsehoods, and evil thoughts will be exposed and shown for what they are,
and the brightness of the truth shine out and into the hearts of men and
women of faith and goodwill.  And so, as I have said before again and again,
we have God's work to do.  And that work is to be, as our Book of Common
Prayer expresses it in the Liturgy, "lights of the world" in our generation.

We have to be the stars which men see, and which lead them unto
Christ.  We need to live in such a manner, and learn to speak in such a way,
that when others encounter us it will be as if they have come to Bethlehem.
It is a tall order to fill, and not an easy work; but is the order we have
been given, and the work we have to do.  Because, in the end, if we do not
do it, who will?  God has called us to be His witnesses to Him in this
world; and if the world, which is passing away and as insubstantial really
as a swirling mist or a passing dream, frightens us into silence, then we
need to reassess who we are, what we believe, and what is the point and
object of our faith.  And maybe that is what every one of us needs to do at
this time.  And then, renewed in our faith, and strengthened in our purpose,
we can go boldly into the world and manifest Christ to all who would see Him
and hear Him, and receive Him into their hearts, if only there were those
bold and brave enough to tell them.

May the Light of Christ shine upon you, and shine in you, and shine
from you, and give you comfort and peace now and always.

As ever, yours in Christ Jesus Our Lord,

                     + Robert David:

On Sunday, the first after Epiphany, the Collect will be:

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.

The theme matches Bishop Robert’s message well where he writes: 

We have to be the stars which men see, and which lead them unto

Christ.  We need to live in such a manner, and learn to speak in such a way,
that when others encounter us it will be as if they have come to Bethlehem.
It is a tall order to fill, and not an easy work; but is the order we have
been given, and the work we have to do.  Because, in the end, if we do not
do it, who will?  God has called us to be His witnesses to Him in this

One of the greatest manifestations of the showing (epiphany) of Christ Jesus was at His baptism at the hands of his cousin John, which we shall be recalling during the service. And as the Lord “witnessed” the Father to us during his time on the earth, so are we to be “witnesses” of the Lord not only to one another but to the world.

For directions about the services on Sunday the 10th Jan, please see the website

May you have the grace and power faithfully to fulfil that which God wants you to be about, day by day.

In His Blessed Name,

Bishop Nicholas