Blwyddyn Newdd Dda! Happy New Year!
It really is great to welcome so many (1,500+!) to our churches over the Christmas period to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the coming of God’s Son into the world. A very big thank you to everyone who helps to make our celebrations as special as always.
The Twelve Days of Christmas are however not yet over! We near now the celebration of Epiphany – the ‘official date’ when we celebrate the visit of the wise men to the ‘boy’ Jesus. Do come along and join us on Sunday 5th to see the wise men arriving at the crib.
Also on the afternoon of Sunday 5th January, Hope.4.All is celebrating its second birthday and we will be joining with the H4A Youth afterwards in the hall for a church family get together of hot food and games – the pool, table tennis, board games, table football will all be out – everyone, regulars and visitors, welcome!
At 6pm in St John the Baptist Church, we are hosting a quieter and more reflective service – Epiphany Readings and Mediations – which is being put together by the local licensed ministers in our mission area – our own Ann and Pam amongst others.
We three kings of orient are,
bearing gifts, we traverse afar
This is the carol, that’s all about the ‘wise men’ or ‘Magi’ and their three gifts to Jesus. Gold for a king, frankincense burned to a deity, and myrrh for anointing a corpse – the gifts show us that God’s Son Jesus is the King who would die to ‘save us from our sins’.
I wonder however have you ever thought about the ‘fourth gift’ of the wise men?
We might easily think about gift-giving (not least at Christmas time too) only in terms of giving material goods!
Yet at Christmas time, very often there is someone in our family who (like the wise men did) has to make a long journey so that the family can be together – at Christmas time we can think about too, the gift of family and friends. Throughout Advent, as we light the Advent Candles and move toward Christmas, we can think of the gifts of hope, peace, joy and love that God and others can bring into our lives.
Gifts then do not have to be material goods!
In fact, if you read the New Testament text more slowly and carefully you may notice a fourth gift too! In Matthew 2:11 we read:
On entering the house [not stable!], they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and worshipped him. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
The first gift to Jesus from the wise men I suggest to you was their bowing down in worship. Adoration. Praise. Honour. Glory. All this was given to Jesus before any material gift. Jesus was the one the star had led them to. Jesus was the one who they understood to be God’s Son, God become human, who would be their Messiah and King, their Lord and Saviour, their new leader and guide and help for through life and the one who would forgive them their sins and give to them life in all its fullness, a new life that would start there at the feet of Jesus and last into eternity. Before any material gift was given, the wise men gave their lives to Jesus in worship.
This year I wonder what will your priorities be? What will your New Year’s Resolutions be?
You may have joined us over the Christmas period, now why not consider giving Jesus your complete worship and devotion too? Or why not take some time to find out why those of us, we consider to be ‘committed Christians’ choose to do this? You could ask a friend? Or ask me about Alpha – our exploring Christianity course?
Equally too, when you celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and achievements with people who are important to you this year, will you celebrate these events firstly (perhaps even only) by sending a card or at best a gift? Or will you, as the wise men did to Jesus, make the extra journey and effort to sit with these people and give your time to these people too? A hard ask sometimes, but a challenge worthwhile having a go at.
Rev Adam Pawley