A reflection for three voices

for Epiphany

by Paul Bagshaw

I am embarrassed to say I think I wrote this, but it was some years ago and was not otherwise attributed when I found it again on my computer. If you recognise it from anywhere else I will immediately retract any claim. Paul Bagshaw


(As though talking to the world in general)


Gold, I bring:
why would one bring gold to a King?
I cannot crown he who is already
Monarch of the known and unknown world,
King over kings,
Lord over all small human ordering.
Gold I bring
only in token acknowledgement
that his realm so far exceeds
our meagre imagination
that we may only bow down
and adore him: a golden bauble
to charm your sleep, infant King.


Frankincense, my gift, O my God;
and its sweet incense ascending.
All nations will worship you,
O holy child,
high above the peak of your holy mountain,
beyond the horizon of language,
and at the dissolution of all questions,
every knee will bow to you,
every voice lift up,
and all will cry with the seraphim,
'Holy, holy, holy
Lord God Almighty.'


Myrrh, for those born in exultant hope
who must die in desolate pain.
Weep, Mary, weep as you must
but do not grow cold:
out of your loss we are found.
From his death - too soon, too soon -
will grow the red blooms of salvation,
the choruses of angels,
the soaring peace
Of God's reconciliation.
Myrrh, I offer, infant saviour
To one who lives and dies for ever.

(As at the crib itself)


Quiet now, take off your shoes,
for this is a holy place, and besides
the child is sleeping.


Be still, lest we stumble in the face
Of this mystery and miss the jewel
Lying in this soiled stable.


Wait, listen, hold your breath,
let nothing disturb the beginning - or the end,
though the journey is through pain.

Silence ...

(Addressing the congregation)


When we had returned to our home
there was no general rejoicing,
no great acclamation, just
an ordinary welcome.


'A child' they said, 'born in a stable?
we could show you a thousand.'
and they would not see what
bright wonders we had seen.


And sometimes,
when we meet together,
to share a little bread and some wine,
we live again our journey and its discovery
and wonder about the boy
and the world altered for ever.