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News from the Vicarage - January 2016

Dear Friends,

I hope that you have had a very happy Christmas and wish you a happy New Year.

The New Year begins with the Naming and Circumcision of Christ. 'After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.'

Christmas is from Christmas Day to the Epiphany on the 6th January till Candlemas on 2nd February. The Tree and decorations come down on twelfth night. The figures of the Wise Men are added to the Crib at Epiphany and in many churches they remain until Candlemas when forty days after his birth, so Luke tells us, Mary and Joseph present Jesus in the Temple and redeem him with two turtle doves and Mary is purified. And there in the Temple the old priest Simeon see Jesus as the Light of the World and says the Nunc Dimittis -

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace: according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen; thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared: before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles: and to be the glory of thy people Israel.

Epiphany is about Christ revealing himself to the world. Although Jesus was born a Jew and his parents did for him all things according to the Jewish law, among the first to greet him were some Magi from Persia. They were astrologers, who foretold the future by studying the stars. They were led by a star to Bethlehem and laid at the feet of a baby, a new born king, their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. These foreigners were the first to recognize in Jesus, that this child was a King, a God and a Sacrifice.

While Matthew and Luke tell us of the birth of Jesus, it is Mark and John who begin their gospels with the baptism of Jesus by John. This is the original Epiphany still kept by the Orthodox Churches. The theme of revelation continues through Epiphany-tide with the Call of the first disciples, the Wedding at Cana and Jesus revealing himself reading the scripture at the synagogue at Nazareth 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free and to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour.'

My best wishes for the New Year.

Fr. Philip Edge - Vicar