Words for Epiphany from Evelyn Francis Capel

Man’s history since the coming of Christ appears as the long road of salvation stretching away into the distant future and ourselves as pilgrims upon it. Our present life is part of a long pilgrimage which we make in company with every other human soul in whom shines the true purpose of being human. Every day in each lifetime is a step forward, a standing still, or a step astray from the straight path. The way is long and full of effort. The end is in the distance and at times hard to see distinctly. The temptation is always near to sit down and pause by the roadside, to become an onlooker at the march of life. The road of salvation is trod with courage and a clear sense of purpose. Over it shines the star of Christ, pointing the way, sending the grace of warmth and enlightenment into human hearts. Strength and courage flow into us when we look up to see the star, calling us, as it once called the three wise men, to follow its guiding light…

…Like the wise men from the East, who journeyed to find the Child, the way through earthly life is lighted by the star of Christ. In earlier ages the stars had a significance for human beings which at present is largely forgotten. They were the source of divinely inspired wisdom. Nowadays, anyone who wants to know more starts to read books and to study the printed page. Among the ancients, the night sky was looked upon as the great world-book. The shining stars were the letters and the constellations were the words. As the stars moved and the planets circled among them, so the script changed. What we read today in books is the wisdom of human minds. What they read in the book of the sky was the wisdom of the gods, of the whole Divine World. It was the revelation of the will of God, by which they ordered and arranged their life and affairs on earth.

The Christmas star has another meaning. The star-filled sky reveals the order and justice of God in the universe. The star of Christ brings the new revelation of grace. Our feeling in the time of Epiphany can be filled with the warmth and glow of this newly given element of grace. It is an expression of the nature and working of Christ and is found in our world of earth only through and from Him. Our single destinies and that of all Mankind are woven from substance of two kinds, from the necessity which follows from the world-order and from grace. There are events in the human lifetime which are clearly the result of what has gone before, whether in a happy or an unhappy sense. Other opportunities come to meet us, far more than as a rule we notice, which come from the future and can be used by our free creative power to ends that cannot be foreseen. We are not only creatures driven along by the necessities of our own nature or the results of our doings. We have a source of free activity in our souls, by which we have the capacity to make and shape our lives through the opportunities that come to meet us.

In the order of the universe the moon is the source of all the forces of necessity. Her influence orders and controls divine justice. The sun, on the other hand, has the power to give grace, to penetrate the order of life with undeserved opportunity, with enthusiasm for free activity. Before Christ’s coming, divine order and justice was worshipped when the hearts of men were lifted to the cosmos of stars by night. At His coming a new star shone, with the warm glow of the sun but in the company of the night-radiant stars. Divine justice is lit up by grace. Since that time, the followers of Christ find the star of grace going before them along the way of salvation that passes through the tribulation of earth.

Excerpted from The Christian Year (from Floris Books, available from: www.steinerbooks.org/detail.html?id=9780863158971)



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