After nearly two weeks of wonderful Christmas Services and celebrations, Sunday 8th January was another festive day at St Mary’s Parish Church, Woodbridge when some very special visitors arrived.
The Wise Men, known as the Magi or the Three Kings, finally completed their long journey to pay homage to the baby Jesus in his crib. In fact they were carried in procession by the little children of the Sunday School, for the final stretch of their journey, from the windowsills of the church, where they had been travelling since Christmas Eve, to the stable, under the altar ! The Wise Men, and their camel, were received by Bishop Nigel (the Rt Revd Nigel Stock, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich) – another special traveller to Woodbridge - and placed in the stable at the beginning of our Service to celebrate the Feast of Epiphany.
Bishop Nigel explained that the word Epiphany, means ‘Manifestation’ – and it is the time when Christians celebrate the wonder of God made manifest to all people on Earth, in the form of a vulnerable little baby. The Wise Men, who travelled from far away, guided by a star, to see the Holy Child, remind us that God took on human frailty for us all. We can all follow our star and journey like the Magi to find God, maybe in unexpected places.
St Mary’s church has been fortunate to be selected to house a beautiful oil painting of the Epiphany by Rupert Henry Corbould. The painting is an Edwardian work, created by the celebrated stained glass artist Corbould. It was rescued by The Friends of Friendless Churches, when its original home, St George’s Church, Perry Hill, London was demolished. The FFC have given the painting to St Mary’s Church on long-term loan. It is now housed in the Chapel of the Epiphany.
It was therefore apt that Bishop Nigel came to Woodbridge on the Feast of the Epiphany to bless and re-dedicate Corbould’s painting of the Epiphany and to rename and dedicate the little side Chapel to The Epiphany. The Rector, Revd Canon Kevan McCormack, expressed the joy of the congregation that we had been given the guardianship of this lovely painting, and thanked everyone who had made it possible – the Friends of Friendless Churches, and Colin Scott the restorer of the painting, Jim Brindley the skilful carpenter – and St Mary’s Project Managers John Davis and John Wright, who between them performed the miracle of getting this enormous work through the tiny doorway of the Chapel and successfully displayed on the wall above the altar.
The Chapel of the Epiphany is available for everyone for private prayer, contemplation or simply as a place of tranquillity and peace, and to enjoy the magnificent Corbould painting. The church and chapel are open during daylight hours 7 days a week all year round. Everyone is welcome to visit this vibrant and peaceful place.
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