Punching Holes in the Darkness

Have you heard the story about the Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson? As a young boy he used to watch the lamplighter lighting the village street lights below his house. He would say to his mother,
"here comes the man who punches holes in the darkness".
This is one of the best pictures of epiphany that I know. Epiphanies are when we experience a hole punched in darkness so we see something or someone in a new light. What we didn't or couldn't see before is suddenly revealed to us. We all have those moments from time to time. Sometimes such moments are life-changing.

For Christians, today 6 January is the Feast of the Epiphany, a celebration of God punching a hole in the darkness. The story of the wise men from the east who were led by a star to find and worship a baby in Bethlehem is well-known. They represent all of us who were not there when Jesus was born but are drawn to him by whatever light we are given. For those who find him life can never be the same again. the wise men were "overwhelmed with joy" and returned to their own country "by another road". Did they then punch holes in the darkness for others?
Lord God, 
the bright splendour whom the nations seek: 
may we who with the wise men have been drawn by your light 
discern the glory of your presence in your Son, 
the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ our Lord. 
(Epiphany Post Communion Prayer, Common Worship, Archbishops' Council 2000)


  1. A hole punched in the darkness, what a wonderful description of epiphany!

  2. 'A hole punched in the darkness' is not my original phrase, but I can't now remember where I heard or read it. Thanks to you 'theoxfordchristian' for commenting. I was an unofficial 'mystery worshipper' in your church on one occasion last summer.

  3. Oh really, what did you think of it? Did you like it?

  4. Anita, there was an excellent sermon. I was shocked that there was no Bible reading (except what the preacher read at the start of his sermon). It was a Holy Communion service but I felt that both the ministry of the word and sacrament were overwhelmed rather than enhanced (as they could have been) by the music. It was also noticeable that regulars seemed too busy meeting and greeting each other before and after the service to really care for visitors. I know St Aldate's is doing a great work, so I don't want to knock it. That day may not have been typical.


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