Welcome back in 2017… I hope you have had a happy, peaceful and restful Christmas. Sometimes doing the simplest things are the most important – having time to stop and think, being with those we love and having a time for reflection and prayer. I hope you’ve had the opportunity to do things that are most important to you.
Many people would have stayed up to welcome in the New Year by hearing the chimes of Big Ben here in the UK. There were many people who noted some of the challenges of 2016 ranging from some of our heroes passing away to turbulent politics around the world. So maybe there is an extra feeling of anticipation for the year ahead and a hope it will be a really good one.
In the account of the Nativity we hear two different Gospel stories portrayed as one. Luke’s Gospel tells us of the visit of the shepherds telling us that Jesus had come for all people, rich and poor, Gentile and Jews. In the other account from Matthew’s Gospel we hear of the visit of the Magi or Wise Men. This was written for a Jewish audience telling them that the long-awaited Messiah had been born.
The three Kings (Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar) represented Europe, Arabia and Africa respectively. The word epiphany comes from the Greek word and means “manifestation”. It celebrates that God had been revealed to us in the person of Jesus.
The gifts they brought were symbolic of the importance of Jesus’ birth, the gold representing his royal standing; frankincense his divine birth; and myrrh his mortality.
So what can we take from these Gospel accounts at the start of this new year?
- We need to remember how God chose to be revealed to us in the humblest of surroundings, a displaced migrant family who were soon to have to flee their home due to being under threat.
- We can take the opportunity to seek out the “light of faith” and follow the star like the wise men as they traveled towards Christ following their faith.
- At the start of the new year perhaps we can make the commitment to deepen our faith and seek out justice in the world around us this year.
In a very basic way if we are part of a Christian community we are called to make a positive difference to the world around us and this is my hope for the year ahead even if we can all aim to do this in the simplest actions each day.
Can I take this opportunity to offer you a happy, fulfilling and successful 2017 – let’s embrace the opportunities ahead of us every day at a time.