At this time of year people celebrate Epiphany and only one month ago Susan Philipsz won the coveted Turner Prize. Her art featured her singing three versions of a Scottish lament. The chairman of the judges commented: “Susan’s presentation … was quite extraordinary … she’s managed to make you look at things differently by hearing things differently which is really quite exceptional.”
So the “Tate take” on epiphany would be: ‘Gaining a sudden understanding of something by way of looking from some unusual direction’. Here then a modern epiphany on Epiphany. Jesus Christ appears to the world. The announcement of his birth would have been of the utmost interest to all the religious types, those you would have found in the churches of the day. However, what, I wonder, is God’s angle, from what direction does he come? Well in answer let me observe what the Bible presents in Luke 2, Matthew 2 and then Mark 2.
In the first, we have that startling announcement to the shepherds on the hillside – and in a word this is nothing less than passing on the news to social outcasts. In the second, we have that star-spangled announcement to the wise men from the East – in a word passing on the news to shady outsiders.
What then of the third, if not an epiphany on the first two: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” God’s angle is frequently not ours. He comes to outcasts, outsiders, yes to those who are willing to be saved from the outermost to the uttermost. I wonder which group we ourselves are in?
Have a truly blessed New Year.