Rev’d Lerys Campbell and I hope that when you read this you have had a blessed Christmas, and brought in 2018 with goodwill and hope.
The new year may be looking like it will be similar to many years past, or you may have new plans for fresh beginnings in your life, or you might be ‘testing the water’ to see if some bright idea you’ve had has a wider appeal.
We’re doing just that at St. Mary’s starting the New Year trialling a new service for all ages at 10am on a first Sunday. It will be interactive, last no more than an hour, have music led by a small band, and the first one on Sunday 7th January will focus on Epiphany when we remember the wise men who travelled huge distances to meet Jesus and give him three gifts.
An epiphany is the sudden realisation as to the nature of a way forward with a tricky situation, perhaps a new plan, or a revelation of the Divine.
For the wise men who followed a star, their encounter with the Son of God came after they’d used their skills as star-gazers and politicians to navigate across lands where faith and power were coming into conflict, and via a rather despotic world leader who suffered delusions as to his own importance and needed careful handling. It was their skills that led to their epiphany, and to kneel with humility at the feet of a baby born to ordinary parents, but with an extra-ordinary nature and purpose ahead of him.
That is why they gave gifts worthy of a king; gold to mark his status as the one who would reveal God’s love; the rare perfume frankincense burnt as part of people’s prayers to God, but also used for it’s healing properties; and myrrh oil, a prophesy of the anointing he would receive in a death and resurrection that would offer forgiveness to all. They had known all along who it what they sought, simply not the shape and form in which he would be revealed to them.
I wonder what epiphany you are seeking this New Year, and what journey you are taking as you move towards it?
If it’s anything like the journey’s my life and Christian faith have taken me on, it will come with a few twists and turns; we rarely know for certain what life’s going to hold in the next week, let alone the next year! But as we work on what seems to be the way forward, travelling through sometimes difficult experiences, or carefully balancing our priorities with other peoples expectations, we can trust in God’s faithful promises to reveal himself to us when we search for him, and use the skills we have to reveal his glory in our lives.
In 2018 I’m sure we all seek a world where love, healing and forgiveness play the dominant role on the world stage, overcoming conflicts with peace and reconciliation, and guiding world leaders to positions of humility rather than power. In our own lives, hopefully we can take the time to work towards our own epiphanies in the plans we have for the year, and give God space to reveal himself to us too. That space could be with us at St. Mary’s on any Sunday, but you may like to try something new as we work on our plans for first Sunday’s - we’d love you to journey with us.
Whatever you are planning for 2018, and wherever your journeys take you, we wish you a very Happy New Year!