A message from Bishop Anne: Living Epiphanytide

18th January 2023

You may have heard me quoting the wonderful rendition of John 1.14 by Eugene Peterson – “the Word became flesh and moved into the neighbourhood”.

I love being part of the family of CofE Birmingham for many reasons, one of the main ones being the quality of our clergy, lay ministers and worshipping communities who daily make God’s love visible in the most challenging of neighbourhoods.

We are in the season of Epiphanytide, as I explain to each tradesman or delivery driver who peers into our hallway and gasps at the sight of our Christmas tree and crib still in place! I am pleased that this custom of retaining some signs of Christmas throughout January is gathering followers, for the “incarnation season” lasts a full 40 days. In less theological terms, that is 40 days to continue wondering at the mystery of what it means for God’s Word to be made flesh, for God to move into the neighbourhood in the person of Jesus Christ. As we continue to travel through Epiphanytide, I encourage us all to reflect on what it means for God’s presence today to be made visible, to be “made manifest” amongst us, (which is what the word Epiphany means).

There are many questions on the horizon for us this year. As we take them to God in prayer we can do so trusting that God in Jesus is right here among us. Who will be the next Bishop of Birmingham? The Vacancy in See Committee has now elected 6 members to go forward and join the 6 nationally elected members of the Crown Nominations Commission who will be involved with the appointment. The completed diocesan Statement of Needs is also available now on our website – it speaks of our hopes that God’s love will be made yet more visible amongst us.  

Where will the discernment around Living in Love and Faith take us? Those who identify as LGBT+ who are touched most deeply by these discussions are invited to take up the offer of our new chaplaincy support team – details in this Update and now on our website. How can we make God’s love more visible to each other?

How will our new Oversight Areas and closer collaboration in mission and ministry point to God alive and active in our neighbourhoods? We have such an Epiphany-shaped opportunity here.

How can we find our way through the current cost of living crisis, the refugee crisis, the crisis in the NHS, in social care, in housing, in so many other areas. The most important question to ask in the midst of all of this, is how can we as a church and as a society live out Epiphanytide and make God’s love visible - today.
 
The Rt. Revd Anne Hollinghurst
Bishop of Aston, Acting Bishop of Birmingham