Reflection for What-if-ity and Epiphanytide
”The people were filled with expectation and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah…… When Jesus also had been baptised and was praying, the heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him.” From Luke 3:15-17, 21,22.
What if Mary or Joseph had said no, the shepherds had stayed put, the wise men had not gone back by a different route and the soldiers had found the child in the manger? From The What-if-ity, Christian Aid.
The what-ifs of the Nativity stories are many, as are the connections between those mentioned in the accounts in Luke’s Gospel. Zeccariah and Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s parents, understandably struggle to accept what is being asked of them in their old age while Joseph and Mary also have much to contend with. Elizabeth and Mary are cousins and so John and Jesus are also related. Those resonances appear at the later baptism of Jesus whilst the feast of the Epiphany also celebrates the wider links of God’s purposes. The revelation of the Christ child to the Gentiles, and not only the Jews, was shown by the Magi from the East bringing symbolic gifts to the baby – but what if they hadn’t noticed the star or been willing to set out on their journey following it, without knowing where it would lead them?
I set out on a long journey recently and noticed that the car was not pulling well up hill but it wasn’t until I couldn’t stop at the lights that I realised there was a problem. It was booked it in for a check but, although I’d had confirmation of that, the garage couldn’t fit it in. I was told to bring it back next day so, trusting their judgement, I did. When I returned, the work still could not be done quickly so I found another garage to look at it and was shocked when they confirmed that a part had failed and that the brakes were in a dangerous condition. I had been in greater danger than I had realised it and was so grateful that the repairs could also be done that day. Later, the what-ifs came to mind – what if there had been other traffic at the lights when I couldn’t stop quickly? What if the brakes had got to the point of complete failure? What if the second garage had also said no?
It’s so easy to make assumptions about the situations we are in and the journeys we undertake. When John the Baptist came out of his journey into the wilderness, the effect it had on him made the crowd think he could be the Messiah. He wasn’t, and said so – but what if that had been a temptation for him that he couldn’t resist? The crowds were expectant and questioning – perhaps we should be too, as the challenges of the year ahead begin to unfold. As he was baptised by his relative, Luke tells us that Jesus was praying, that the Holy Spirit came to him and the words from heaven revealed him as God’s beloved son, with whom he was well pleased. In the light of Omicron and the what-ifs of life we all face in varying ways, what is being revealed to us, what might we need to question and what encouraging words do we hear as we travel on our way?
With my prayers; pob bendith,