light on handAn epiphany is a sudden realisation or revelation about something. It comes from a New Testament Greek word that means ‘appearing’ or ‘manifestation’. It is also the name of a Christian feast day celebrated on the twelfth day after Christmas, traditionally linked to the visit of the wise men to the infant Jesus, but is more about recognising who Jesus is than about the wise men.

I had a bit of an epiphany today. I had a hospital appointment in London (follow up for the operation I had last year). I travelled in on the train and London Underground and arrived in time for the appointment. Surprisingly they were only running about 15 minutes late, and I went in to see the doctor aware that they wanted to check the wound site and how my cyber-brain gadget was working.

Two minutes later I was leaving the office having had a very brief visual check and asked if it was all okay (it is). I then had the return journey that was extended by having to travel on a specific train (in order to get a cheap ticket). All that travelling and time for just a couple of minutes? I could have sent a photo or done it by Skype and saved a lot of time, effort and money!

And as I grumped about it I had my epiphany. How did the wise men feel after they had travelled such a long way home again. They had found the baby in a modest house (not a stable if you read Matthew – presumably they moved out of the stable rather promptly!) rather than the royal palace from which they had been redirected? Did they wonder if the journey had been worth it? Did they wonder if they had got it wrong?

I suspect that they were nowhere near as grumpy as I was. They had been led by an astronomical anomaly. They had been redirected following a search of Hebrew Scriptures. The star had stopped above the right house. And then there was the dream that warned them to avoid Jerusalem on the way home. For them it had been worth it. They had risked their reputations, their finances (in travel costs and generous gifts) and their time (a very long journey!) to spend a few moments with a peasant family, but it was the highlight of their lives.

I am often humbled by people’s gratitude. Not because something I have done has been the highlight of their life (far from it!!!) but because God has used something apparently insignificant to bless them. In physical terms I may not have done anything remarkable, but somehow God has used a visit, a prayer, even a sermon, and blessed people out of proportion to my involvement. He does that, you know. He takes what we offer and feeds multitudes. He takes words and speaks through them. He takes a visit and encourages through it. He takes bread and wine and inspires and blesses.

And in case you are thinking it, this is NOT limited to Ministers. God uses all of us. That includes you. That’s probably not an epiphany for you, but it’s always good to be reminded! It’s worth the effort, and worth rejoicing about on the way home afterwards.

Be blessed, be a blessing.


light bulbI had an epiphany this morning but it’s okay, I’ve got some tablets for it.

No, seriously (and yes I can be), I had an epiphany – a sudden message from God that stopped me in my tracks. The passage of the Bible I read this morning* was one that I have read many times and it didn’t jump off the page at me like it did this morning. It seems to summarise brilliantly so much of what we are considering at the moment in our church under the banner of a 2020 vision and what God is saying to me personally.

It comes from a letter Paul wrote to a church in Colossae and it’s worth remembering that it is written in the plural – ‘you’ means the church not an individual on their own and ‘pray’ means ‘pray together’. The extract of Paul’s letter is Colossians 4:2-6

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

This encourages me immensely. It encourages me because it confirms (if we needed confirmation) that the direction in which we feel God is leading us is entirely in harmony with the Bible. If it wasn’t I would be worried!

It encourages me because it reminds me of something I said on Sunday morning in church – that church is God’s Plan A for the world and he’s not working on a Plan B. The task to which he has called us as followers of Jesus is the same today as it was for the earliest Christians – to grow deeper in our relationship with Jesus so we can be better free samples (individually and collectively) to those who aren’t yet followers.

It encourages me because it reminds me that everyone in the church is involved in the same task that God has called me to, and I have the privilege of being paid so I can devote myself to encouraging, teaching, supporting, resourcing and blessing everyone else as you fulfil your calling in your daily lives.

It has been a ‘shiver down the spine’ moment – literally – and those moments are usually when I sense God has spoken to me loud and clear.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

*I use Scripture Union’s WordLive