A Letter from the Reader
Happy New Year!
I hope that you have enjoyed a wonderful Christmas and that 2017 is starting well for you.
So what happens next? As you read this, do you still have your decorations up, or are you beginning to think about taking them down? Are you waiting until Epiphany, the 12th day of Christmas, or has life perhaps already returned to what you might call normal? So what are you left with from Christmas?
During the Advent season and over Christmas, I try to look out for the real thing, for a moment when God succeeds in cutting through all the cardboard imitations of Christmas and reveals Himself to me again. Sometimes that moment is a time in prayer, sometimes it’s a chat over a coffee with someone, or something I read or hear. Sometimes it happens in church, often it doesn’t. But it’s always a moment when I feel I am tasting the real Christmas again – the reality of God leaving heaven and living amongst us, the reality of a God taking the risk to be born as a fragile baby, the reality that we are not alone because God now walks with us. Maybe you had a moment when you tasted the real Christmas this year. A moment when God cut through all the Christmas lights, the wrapping paper and the busyness.
So what happened next – the Epiphany. The wise men were not all that wise because they went to the wrong place and the wrong person. They went to the capital, Jerusalem, and to King Herod. Fancy asking him, ‘Where is he who is to be born King of the Jews’?’ Herod hadn’t a clue but he knew who would know about the Messiah, about the Christ. He asked the chief priests and scribes. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem in the land of Judah.’ Lucky for the wise men it was only a few miles away. Herod sent them off and told them to search diligently for the child and to tell him when they had found him. Fortunately, the wise men did not trust Herod or his interest in the Christ child.
We assume there were three because we are told of three gifts. We know that they were rich, foreign and wise, but we do not know that they were kings. The shepherds were ordinary Jews smelling of sheep and probably not able to read or write. These men were different indeed, almost in total contrast. It helps us to see God calls all peoples to come to him, rich, poor, the known and the stranger, modest and wise, all are invited to come to God.
If you did find that moment with God this Christmas, then cherish it, nurture it, and don’t lose sight of what happened as 2017 starts up and life gets going again. And if it didn’t happen this year, don’t give up. Jesus is here amongst us, and you can be sure that he’s ready to meet you. He’s ready to offer you the real thing, the glorious truth of his love, which is alongside you in every situation and which will never give up.
There is always an opportunity to look at what happened next – by joining us at church at other times of the year.
May I wish you a peaceful New Year.