I remember a bloke in the mid-sixties (Colin Chapman) who worked really hard at making English something interesting and appealing to his (North London) pupils reading a poem with the word 'epiphany' in it. This was a word we never heard before and when he asked what we thought - we merely shrugged - and then . . . He made us all jump by turning round and telling it that it was one of those moments when something suddenly becomes clear (not our general experience I would guess).
Today the day the Church celebrates 'The Epiphany' - the revelation of Jesus to the non-believing, scientific, thinking world (as opposed to the smelly Jewish shepherd world) - in the shape of the Magi (AKA 'three kings or wise men') is most certainly 'revelation' but it took its time to come about. The shortest estimate comes in at about three months and the longest, five years, and regardless - it's not sudden is it? What's more interesting is that our tableaux replete with shepherds, angels, MJ&J and the freakings (as one of the children pronounced it during one of the carol services) weren't all there together in the stable - today's visitors arrive late and, considering the Holy Innocents (the slaughter of boys under two years of age) - I would have to assume it was no more than a couple of years after Jesus' birth.
So Christmas is done - and in a nutshell:
Donkey ride on a dusty road to a town South of Jerusalem (no security barriers then)
In a land that was occupied by strangers
In a town that was full - no room at the inn
Giving birth in a stable - laid on the stuff the cattle ate
Visited by shepherds (I ask you, shepherds, smelly outcasts!)
More time passes
And then into town comes the Circus:
Flash geezers with expensive clobber on camels arrive.
Looking for a King - no ordinary King, but the 'King of all kings'
Which doesn't please the bloke who is king at the time
(and he's killed his own kids to keep the job as his)
They've brought Him gifts
Not nappies, baby bottles and stuff
Gold - that's the stuff of kings
Frankincense - the stuff of priests
Myrrh - the smell of death
In three gifts volumes are spoken: Priest, King and Sacrifice
From Gentiles - people who are distant from God
Not local lads but foreigners (and we know about foreigners don't we ;-) )
Making clear something that the locals might not have understood
Jesus is the Christ (God's anointed one) for ALL
Jew and gentile
Near and far
All colours and complexions
Suddenly, yet slowly, it all becomes clear.