A View From The Park

What are you carrying into the New Year?

I am reminded daily through all the media that in relation to Brexit, “We’ve never lived through times like this!” Some tell us “that things will be worse”. And certainly at the time of writing this letter things certainly seem to be uncertain! And while all this is happening I am currently preparing for all our Christmas celebrations.  
Reflecting on these two events the difference between them is that one will certainly affect the direction of our nation whereas the other has changed the course of human history.

Although we will have sung the carol ‘We three Kings’ at Christmas and seen the Three Kings standing beside the Shepherds at the crib they did not arrive at the same time as the Shepherds. The Feast of the Epiphany, held on the 6th January, marks the visit of the Wise Men. In the Eastern Orthodox Church the Epiphany is most important as it marks the occasion when God’s salvation comes to the world and, with the inclusion of the Wise Men, it confirms God’s Gift is also for the Gentiles - those who weren’t Jews.

Epiphany originally meant the ‘abrupt manifestation or showing up of a sovereign to inspect those of a lower rank’. From their observations and studies this group of Wise Men, who were astronomers, understood that a new king was about to be born and that this was such a significant event they were willing to undertake what would have been a very long and dangerous journey.

At Christmas you might have wondered what present to buy someone. Slippers? Again! Maybe socks?!  No slippers and socks were gifted by these wise men. They took with them three gifts that recognised and acknowledged the importance of this little child. Each man knelt, an act of submission and worship, to present his gift.

Gold - for a King and which was a sign of Kingship
Frankincense - given to a God and representing wisdom
Myrrh - used as a sign of long life and healing as well as for burial rituals (as we read in the Gospel stories when Jesus died).

So, what will you carry into the New Year?
I wonder whether in the gifts of the Wise Men there might be a lesson as well as some questions for you to carry that could influence how you live in 2019?  

Gold - Your wealth and the things you invest your time in can often become the focus and priority of life. The world tells us that in and through them a sense of worth can be gained. Further, if you watch the adverts on TV they imply that owning their product you will get your desired result. The Christian faith, however, declares something quite different. Your worth is not in your bank balance or possessions. Your eternal worth is guaranteed because of the birth of a baby, called Jesus, His death on a Cross and His Resurrection.   

Frankincense - I invite you to ask the questions, ‘What do I worship?’ and ‘What or who do I pray for?’  You could say that the Wise Men displayed humility and wisdom when they stood in a stable before a feeding trough and on seeing a new born baby knelt before their King. Do you acknowledge Jesus is the Son of God? And if you do will you make it a priority to kneel before Him and worship Him?

Myrrh - reminds us of our mortality. Although death is not a subject we talk about much in our culture please do not miss the fact that this gift points you to Jesus’ death and therefore highlights the reality that death is not the end for those who acknowledge Jesus as their Saviour.

We all carry things with us in the New Year. I suggest this year that you would be a Wise Person if you carried these three gifts with you and, as you ponder on their significance, I pray that as 2019 unfolds each one of you will know Jesus - the promise fulfilled at the first Christmas for your sake - with you.   

© 2019 St Oswald's Church, Fulford. All Rights Reserved.