Happy New Year! I hope you have all managed to enjoy some excitement, friendship and sharing of gifts over the Christmas period?
Thank you to all of you who sent good wishes after my hip operation. I am doing well and will be back at work in the next few weeks.
As I write this letter, I have no idea what the outcome of the General Election will be or what the New year will hold for us as a Country.
However, at the beginning of this New Year, I would like to keep our eyes and hearts focused on some of the nativity characters that feature after Christmas is over. The characters of the nativity may be familiar to most of us but the Magi (the wise men) are not remembered at Christmas but In a separate festival which falls 12 days after Christmas Day, the Feast of Epiphany. The season of Epiphany continues on until early February, long after the tinsel and the tree have gone back up in the loft.
In Matthew’s Gospel they are described as Wise men from the East. It says “when they saw the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy”. They knelt down, paid him homage and then opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts. These gifts they offered to Jesus weren’t random gifts – they were deeply symbolic and full of meaning. Gold, associated with a King. Frankincense, a sign of Jesus divinity.
Myrrh, which was used for burials and was a gift foreshadowing Jesus death. These symbolic gifts remind us that our gifts are for sharing. As we remember these gifts during the Epiphany season, it is a good opportunity for us to think about the idea of what makes a good gift? We often limit our understanding of gifts to physical gifts, things we need or want, or things others need or want. But we all have gifts we can share. Kindness, listening, baking, a sense of humour, the list is endless. These are gifts we have to offer out to those around us; our friends, our family; our neighbours. Gifts which can contribute to our communities and help strengthen and build relationships.
This season of New Year and Epiphany. Why not add an extra item in your shopping basket and give to the foodbank; or make some cakes or a meal and invite your neighbour to tea. How can we offer out our gifts to others, remembering always the greatest gift of love and hope found in the baby whom the Magi visited that very first Epiphany. They were overwhelmed with joy in the giving and the blessing received.
I hope we will find time to experience that same joy as we bless others.
With every blessing
*www.hartfieldchurch.org & www.colemanshatchchurch.org