Today we celebrate Epiphany- a Greek word meaning revelation/appearance or manifestation. There are many different traditions associated with it from cake to candlelit processions. Here in the West, we celebrate this primarily as the moment the wise men- who have been faithfully following their star to Bethlehem- finally arrive at the stable and Christ, the Incarnate Son of God, is revealed to them.
As I was pondering what Epiphany might mean in the middle of a pandemic that is causing such grief and heartache across our world, and as we find ourselves in lockdown again, this lovely Epiphany poem by Christina Rossetti comforted me. It offers both an acknowledgement of our need for forgiveness as we come to the light of Christ that shines into the dark corners of our world and our lives, but also hope. Hope, that under Christ’s loving and pitying gaze, strength for each day may be found and that newness of life in Him is always waiting.
Trembling before Thee we fall down to adore Thee,
Shamefaced and trembling we lift our eyes to Thee:
O First and with the last! annul our ruined past,
Rebuild us to Thy glory, set us free
From sin and from sorrow to fall down and worship Thee.
Full of pity view us, stretch Thy sceptre to us,
Bid us live that we may give ourselves to Thee:
O faithful Lord and True! stand up for us and do,
Make us lovely, make us new, set us free–
Heart and soul and spirit–to bring all and worship Thee.
Christina Rossetti was part of the Pre-Raphaelite movement and this painting is from another member of that group, the artist Edward Burne-Jones.
It is a wonderful image to dwell on and to draw you into prayer for our world. May Christ’s light bring you hope and peace this day.