I can see clearly now
Epiphany (6 January)
by Brian Radcliffe
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To explore students’ openness to moments of revelation and wonder (SEAL theme: Self-awareness).
Preparation and materials
- Have available an image of a lit light bulb (or an actual bulb) to show during the assembly.
- Find the song ‘I can see clearly now’ by Johnny Nash and have the means available to play it at the end of the assembly.
- Display the image of (or actual) light bulb.
Do you ever have light-bulb moments?
I observe them many times each day. It’s when the penny drops, everything clicks into place and understanding comes. It can happen when solving a maths equation, performing a gymnastics routine, puzzling out what an image in a poem means, translating a sentence from one language into another.
It can also happen in relationships, when one person appreciates something about another for the first time or when a disagreement is resolved.
- The 6 January is celebrated in the Christian church as the feast of Epiphany. The word ‘epiphany’ actually means a light-bulb moment.
- Having enjoyed the Christmas story of God sending Jesus to be born as a human being, a person like you and me, Epiphany is the day to be aware of all the implications of what God has done in that act. Using the story of the Magi – the wise men who came to see Jesus – Christians remind themselves of the symbolism attached to the gifts the Magi brought: gold, incense and myrrh.
Gold signifies that Jesus comes as a person of power, a king, a ruler.
Incense shows that Jesus comes as a holy man, someone who is totally pure, who has no wrong side to him.
Myrrh indicates that Jesus will one day die a significant death.
- At Epiphany, Christians try to understand again all that Jesus is. They want to make sure the penny has dropped, that everything about their faith has clicked into place, they understand personally Jesus’ relationship with them.
Time for reflection
In my experience, epiphanies, or light-bulb moments, creep up on me unexpectedly. I may have been puzzling over something for hours, then the answer hits me. I may wake up in the middle of the night because something in a dream has clicked or else something someone says triggers a chain of thoughts in my mind that results in a moment of revelation. It all makes sense. I can’t choose the moment this happens, but I can create the right environment to encourage it to happen.
For me, such epiphanies are less likely to happen when I’m stressed, when I’m tormented by trying to find the answer to something, when I can’t focus on anything else. Sometimes that means I need to find peace and quiet, maybe by going for a walk or reading a book. Some people find there’s nothing better than having a shower or a relaxing bath. At other times I find it’s better to fill my mind with something totally different from the issue, maybe doing a Sudoku puzzle or watching my favourite TV programme. Then, out of nowhere, revelation comes.
One of those tactics I’ve described might work for you, too, but there may be others. It might simply be a case of going on to the next question in a test and going back later to what’s been puzzling you. It could be that music works its magic or merely closing your eyes and blanking your mind in meditation for a minute or two.
The Christian festival of Epiphany has a particular focus on revelation. It’s seen as an opportunity to remind ourselves about who Jesus was and is. It may start out with beliefs and ideas, but the epiphany comes when we realize that this person may have something to do with us personally. It’s a time to connect the historical character with here and now.
Maybe this Epiphany we could all spend a few moments using some of the techniques I’ve suggested, focusing on the gold, incense and myrrh just to see if we realize something new.
Thank you for moments of epiphany, when things begin to make sense.
Thank you for the gift of Jesus, who can surprise us with his revelations.
May we develop openness to new and exciting ideas.
‘I can see clearly now’ by Johnny Nash