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Epiphany 2022
2 January 2022
Today’s readings: Isaiah 60:1-6; Matthew 2:1-12.
Let us pray:

Father of light, unchanging God,
today you reveal to men of faith the resplendent fact of the Word made flesh. 
Your light is strong, your love is near;
draw us beyond the limits which the world imposes,
to the life where your Spirit makes all life complete.
Through your Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.

Amen.

A Reflection


When I spoke at Christmas, I quoted the words of Pope Francis including this line, ‘To experience Christmas is to allow oneself to be shaken by its surprising newness.’ One member of the congregation, at least, took this away and thought, ‘What if I look at these events as if I had never heard of them before?’… and, indeed, saw the ‘surprising newness.’

Imagine you’re a one of those first shepherds, abiding in the fields.  The arrival of the angels must have been so surprising and their message so compelling that you had no option but to get up and go into Bethlehem to see this child in a manger.  So, you go to the stable and see a baby, like many others, and you see a baby and yet more than a baby.  Again, there was something about this baby, something that see you in Him, something which is surprising and new, something so compelling that you bow to worship and leave praising God.  

I also spoke at Christmas about the many people looking towards their ‘post-pandemic’ lives and how those lives might be different and better; and I also suggested that, perhaps, they were looking in the wrong places for the answer; they are looking for the things they can change in their world rather than looking beyond it.

If the ‘surprising newness’ of the Nativity is not of itself enough to call us to look beyond then it is the Feast of the Epiphany which calls us to this.  Just as the Christ is made manifest to Israel, to the people of God, through the shepherds, so He is revealed to the people of the world through the Wise men.

In the Collect for today we pray, ‘Your light is strong, your love is near; draw us beyond the limits which the world imposes, to the life where your Spirit makes all life complete.’

All too often we can settle for the limits which the world imposes perhaps because we like them, because they’re comfortable, familiar and safe; perhaps because we do not feel that we have any alternative or we do not have the strength to do anything other.  It’s like living in a walled garden knowing that the fullness of life is over the wall.  For some the pleasures of the garden are too precious and tempting to leave; for others, the walls seem too high to climb over.

Yet, the Wise Men call us to go beyond the world we know, to travel a great distance, if need be, because God, even as a small child, is calling us to the life where the Spirit makes all life complete.

To return to the words of Pope Francis, we need to stand before the Nativity in silence, to see the ‘surprising newness’ and to find within ourselves, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, whatever it takes to reach beyond, because we know that the fullness of life which we crave is beyond the world that we know.

 

Organ Voluntary


Fanfare on ‘In dulci jubilo’ written and performed by Paul Fey, from St. Thomas’, Leipzig:
 
Watch here

Today’s hymn


As with gladness, men of old:
 
Watch here

The Christmas Message from the Supreme Governor of the Church of England

Watch here

Christmas at St. Paul’s Cathedral


An insight into the ‘behind the scenes’ work at St. Paul’s Cathedral:
Watch here

Desmond Tutu

There will be a service in celebration of the life of Desmond Tutu on BBC Radio on the morning of Sunday 2nd January at 8.10 am. Catch up on BBC iplayer if you miss it.
 

Salmon for the New Year!


One of the joys, and hazards, of scouring YouTube for organ pieces and hymns is that it throws up things of which one would not have thought, and one such forgotten delight is ‘The Two Fat Ladies,’ (how very un-PC!) the precursors, I am sure, to ‘The Hairy Bikers,’ who would have had no TV career had Clarissa Dickson-Wright and Jennifer Patterson not gone before and TV producers had not been looking for a double-act to replace them.  The videos are certainly dated but have an ‘old-world’ charm… ‘…the dog, the wife and the walnut tree, the more you beat them, the better they be!!’

Well, back to the salmon.  Here’s a simple recipe, cooked by Clarissa, from the first English Cookbook, The Accomplisht Cook, first published in 1660 by Robert May:
 
Peel four to six oranges, using a knife, and cut in slices ‘across the equator.’  Put a layer of the oranges in the bottom of a frying pan, equal to the size of your salmon fillet.  Lay the salmon on top, put more orange slices to cover the edges, then season with salt and pepper and a good grating of fresh nutmeg.  Squeeze over the juice of another orange, and cover with more slices of orange.  Cover loosely with silver foil and cook on the hob, on a medium heat until the salmon is just cooked through… probably not more than 15/20 mins…do not be tempted to give a ‘few more minutes’… check the centre and if it’s almost there, take it off and let the residual heat finish it.
Now, I think we could probably do this just as well in the oven at 170c for about 20 mins.  Contrary to Clarissa and Robert May, I would be very tempted, as the fish rests, to take off the juices, reduce it a little in a saucepan and add a knob of butter to make a richer and thicker sauce.

And here’s the vid, so that you can see how she does it:
 
Watch here

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

The London Fireworks:
 
Watch here
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