While the feast of Epiphany has been shifted to the Sunday in New Zealand and many other countries, January 6th, the Twelfth day of Christmas, is the traditional day for this feast which marks the conclusion of the Season of Christmas (and the last FFF post of this Advent /Christmas series).
378 years ago today, 6 January 1643, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman sailed past and named a small group of islands about 50km north of Cape Reinga, the northern-most point of mainland New Zealand. Because the day was the 12th of Christmas, the feast of the Epiphany, he named the islands “Three Kings” in honour of the Magi’s visit to the Christ.
On my visit to Te Rerenga Wairua Cape Reinga I read along the track to the lighthouse the many information boards telling of the spiritual significance of this place, the stepping-off point for the spirit (wairua) of the dead on their journey to their eternal homeland.
And then one notice telling of Tasman’s naming of the islands on the distant horizon: “According to tradition, three kings went searching for the spiritual leader of the age. The Epiphany was when they found him – the new-born baby Jesus.”
And here was I, a man living 2000 years later, many ages after that event, and about as far as one can get from Bethlehem, praying to the God who was that child, and singing with the Magi as I strolled back to my car “O come let us adore him…”
And remembering Pope Francis’ words on this feast last year:
“As we begin the New Year, may we discover anew that faith demands worship. If we can fall on our knees before Jesus, we will overcome the temptation to set off on our own path. For worship involves making an exodus from the greatest form of bondage: slavery to oneself. Worship means putting the Lord at the centre, not ourselves. It is means giving things their rightful place, and giving the first place to God… Worship means going to Jesus without a list of petitions, but with one request alone: to abide with him.“