EPIPHANY: a poem by four wise men

This poem was written on the occasion of a pilgrimage to Bethlehem by His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, The  Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, The moderator of the Free Churches, David Coffey, and The Armenian patriarch of Great Britain, Bishop Nathan Hovhannisian in Advent 2006.

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Epiphany 2007

Four wise men came from the west

To Bethlehem, a city sadly torn apart;

With iron walls and troops oppressed.

They spoke of ‘wrongs within the human heart’

I thought epiphany would come earlier this year

But years ago when from the east

Three such men had crossed the sand

They laid their tributes at Christ’s feet

But now our troops invade their shattered land

I thought epiphany might never come this year

And what does now the future hold

For me, for him, my Abrahamic brother

What meant the incense, myrrh and gold?

Can we not change, and learn to love each other?

I hope epiphany will come at last this year


4 thoughts on “EPIPHANY: a poem by four wise men

  1. I might have mentioned the massed obeisance to ‘St.’Kodak’ visiting the site of birth. A section of an Eastern European choir visiting, gave a rendering of a pretty song they had probably planned to sing, in the centre of the chamber. They had skill. A wheelchair bound woman was unable to descend the main entry via the hewn out steps into it. I remember, in all the melée, asking her if there was some way of assisting. The exit had fewer steps; it too presented difficulties. The compromise was to somehow get herself round to the exit and peer in to see what was impossible to view from the entry, while for a brief period those people who were about to exit were unofficially controlled. Because of the waves of emotional people shuffling along to enter the chamber, It was not safe to stop people exiting for more than a couple of minutes.

    I cannot remember if I would have written anything else. There were a great number of influences and experiences to absorb about the whole trip.


    1. Hmm. That gives a vivid picture of so many influences and emotions and activities – and certain important things not being noticed, in the desire to absorb as much as possible from the site.


  2. I have very torn and mixed feelings about the poem, having visited Bethlehem, though not at this time of year. The painting appears to be one of the Renaissance style.


    1. Have you written your reflections on your visit anywhere? I’d be interested to read it if so. I like this painting, having sifted through scores – it’s truer to the gospel account (ie magi, not kings: in a house, not a stable: Jesus was a young child, not a baby) and the painter has captured tenderness and joy on the faces of the magi.


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