Former Archbishop celebrates Norwich epiphany

Canon John Minns and Lord WillFormer Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams presided over a celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany at St George Tombland on Monday January 6 and encouraged the Norwich congregation to manifest God’s love with overflowing exuberance, reports Jenny Seal.

In the beautiful interior of St George Tombland, with candles and incense in abundance, Lord Williams resplendent in gold and red vestments presided over a traditional service of Sung Mass for the Feast of the Epiphany on Monday January 6

Canon John Minns (pictured right), the Priest in Charge of St George Tombland, situated within Norwich city centre, began the service with a genial welcome and described having the former Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rt Rev and Rt Hon Lord Williams of Oystermouth, preach as a “real privilege”. 

The Epiphany celebration, traditionally observed on January 6, remembers the three miracles that manifest the divinity of Jesus Christ - the visit of the three Magi, Christ's baptism and his first miracle at the wedding in Cana.

Lord Williams, who stood down from his role as Archbishop of Canterbury at the end of 2012 and is now Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, preached a 15-minute sermon encouraging the congregation to be a church that did it’s ‘epiphany job’. 

He said: “A church that is doing its epiphany job is a church that will seek always to listen to the real questions people are asking, the real hopes that get them out of bed in the morning, the real integrity of their feeling towards the God who has already, did they but know it, found His way to be with them.”

Looking at what the wedding in Cana means for Christians today Lord Williams said: “The message is that this is a community that doesn’t just do what is necessary, it also does what is gloriously unnecessary, what is superfluous to requirements.

“It does more than what’s got to be done, it does things because of joy; it does things out of an overflowing exuberance.  If Christians are good, it is not because they are nervously trying to impress God; it is because they can’t help themselves.  It is because they are overcome with the goodness that has reached out to them and they can’t keep it in.”

Drawing close to the end of his message, Lord Williams said: “A church doing its epiphany job is a church which throws light; a church which helps people to sort out their possibly rather chaotic hopes and aspirations and wonderings about the world; a church which suggests to people that possibly the God who made and redeemed the universe is, in spite of everything, deeply on their side; a church prepared to greet human beings as humans beings with joy and expectation, not simply with a sense of duty.  There is our charter for the life of the Christian church.”

Lord Williams then presided over Holy Communion and shook hands with each member of the congregation as they left at the end of the service.

A celebration meal with entertainment followed, held at the Forget Me Not café within the Norwich Christian Resources Centre

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