Night Vision: reflections for the (new) year

Posted on January 24th, 2018 in News

The familiar story of three magi and their journey through the night, has captured the imagination of Christians for centuries. It is luminous with meaning and here, at the beginning of 2018, it is no less vivid with relevance.

In an age of relentless information, sassy sound bites, rapid communication, over-whelming knowledge, defensive rationalisation; and with minds all too ready to divide the world into good and bad, right and wrong, flesh and spirit, day and night, we desperately need these stories of poetic imagination to light our way.

The wise men in this story did not surf the web in the comfort of their palaces looking for newsfeeds on the birth of Jesus Neither did they google -‘new baby - possible messiah - somewhere in the region of Bethlehem’ - and let their Sat Nav do the rest!

Instead, they were dedicated and fearless seekers after truth - ready to leave the comfort of their certainty, travel through dark and doubt and danger, to encounter for themselves what their intuition and the Spirit were prompting them towards.

We all have within us a deep yearning for more. Our logic tells us that God is impossible, much less God with us! But deep inside us we know that we desire something that won’t come from the latest gadgets or more information or a better job or a bigger house or the next holiday or the finest bottle of wine: however nice all those things might be. We want to know something that does not come from newsfeeds or commentaries –- but from experience.

In January - as we still cherish hopes for something different this year – for ourselves and for our world, we need to go beneath our attempts at self- improvement or, indeed, that already-sinking sense of defeat, to find our heart’s deepest direction.

We might ask ourselves:

What is it that I really really want?

What is it that I really most need?

What is it that the world really most needs?

And we might let that longing, that need, propel us from complacency or self-effort into an adventure of deepening faith. We might allow our deepest desire to give us courage to go into the night.

What we encounter in the dark is not always comfortable; it may be anxiety or grief or doubt or failure or disorientation or sadness or powerlessness or need; all the things we don’t like to face. But as we travel in faith and in the company of others, guided by the Christ star we will move nearer to the mystery of God with us.

And so, following our longing, we might make a new or renewed commitment to some spiritual practice; meditation on scripture, daily prayer or contemplative silence, perhaps.To do that, it helps to find someone to accompany you. One of the best kept secrets of the church is spiritual direction. There are hundreds of men and women across London and beyond whose greatest joy is to accompany others on this journey - and who have learned something of the art of navigating those stars in whatever darkness is yours.

We need support and guidance if we are seekers after a truth the world is blinding us to - with its 24 hour day. We need company along the night way.

And when we arrive – and we must go on journeying and arriving all our life - what we find will look like vulnerability - but it will be the vulnerability of infinite Love; it will look very small but it will grow full of grace and truth; It will look like a mere baby but it is a God who has made an even longer and more hazardous journey to be there when we arrive. It is Emmanuel. God with us.

May God give us grace to make the journey.

Julie Leger Dunstan

(excerpt from her Epiphany sermon)

January 2018

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