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Hallo again to all.

As we write this letter Sunday afternoon, the sun is setting at the end of II Christmas, two days before the Feast of the Epiphany. There is something dramatic about the sunset arriving before we have met our publication deadline; it is as if the day has run out before we were able to complete our duty. Tonight that duty has two parts: to complete this Epiphany issue of AO, and to gather the recycles and take them out to the kerb for pickup tomorrow. Such a dual world.

As we struggle to keep together our world of residence and our world of faith, we look around us at that world, the way we see it. Our northern-hemisphere environs are cold, darkening, and utterly 21st-century. We look up at the wall where a Geochron tells us that it is early afternoon in Dampier Land, and AccuWeather tells us that it is very warm there and that there is a typhoon threatening Broome. Picking up our telephone to ring an old friend who lives in Broome whom we hadn't seen since 1988 in Invercargill, we managed to waste a pleasant half hour catching up before getting down to the business of talking about the Feast of the Epiphany and what it means in urban 2004. It's the same Jesus at both ends of the telephone call, and the same world, but almost everything else is different. We compared notes on how our parishes would be handling Epiphany, but she pointed out that her church already did; it is Monday there in Broome while it is still Sunday here in North America. The past and the present briefly merge.

While we enjoy the stories and music associated with the Three Kings, and delight in the Hispanic liturgies for Three Kings Day, for us the Epiphany is as much about the baptism of Jesus and the first proclamation of the Holy Trinity. There is something deliciously mystical about the story told in Matthew 3. Much of the mystery is how such a thing could ever happen; surely today the Holy Spirit would be tracked on radar or challenged by Homeland Security.

And in that mystery lies one of the biggest issues of Christianity for us. How can we keep the mystery of faith and listen to the Holy Spirit while also remembering to put more unleaded petrol into the car and to put out the recycles next to the kerb for pickup. Tomorrow morning the Spirit of God descends like a dove and lights on Jesus, and also the workers in the sanitation trucks pick up mixed paper, glass, and cardboard from the edge of the drive. We are unwilling to let go of the mystery of faith, but if we wrap ourselves in it so much that we separate from the world that feeds and houses us, we'll be a candidate for the loony bin.

Only the faintest glow, half twilight and half moonlight, shows out the window where at 'Hallo again to all' there was bright horizontal sun. Another day is night, Jesus went up straightaway out of the water and saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and the brown glass, green glass, and plastic bottles are all properly cleaned and separated. It's perfect: this letter is done, the sun is finished setting, and in Broome, it's dinnertime, tomorrow, if the typhoon isn't too bad.

See you next week. Whatever that means.

Brian Reid's signature
Cynthia McFarland
Brian Reid

Last updated: 4 January 2004

A thin blue line
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