The Epiphany is an intriguing story. It has all the right ingredients – a journey, danger, a bit of mystery and intrigue, generosity and meanness, good versus bad and a few twists and turns near the end. It could have been a Hollywood blockbuster (perhaps it has been made into a film but I’ve never come across it) but in fact we find it in the Bible set out in Matthew chapter 2.
Here we read an account of the mystical Wise Men, star gazers from the East, who notice that a new and very bright star has appeared in the sky and they see it as a sign that a new King has been born. They go off to King Herod with the not unreasonable expectation that a new King might be found in a royal palace. But that isn’t where he is to be found. They travel on and eventually find that King to be none other than Jesus, God born among us, and in great joy at this encounter they offer him fine gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. And being warned in a dream about Herod’s evil plans they head home a different way – for their journey is taking them in a new direction now.
It would be easy to dismiss this story as a familiar bit of fun, played out in foil crowns and old curtain cloaks in nativity plays up and down the land. But this is a story for us all. At its heart it is a story of seeking and searching – it’s about what we seek and where we might find it.
I don’t know about you but here in the Vicarage, the turkey has (finally) been finished off, the bins have been dragged out to the roadside heaving with old wrapping paper and uneaten food, and we’re left to wonder how long to leave it before we can put our Christmas cards in the recycling bin without appearing ungrateful. Is that all we’ll be left with from Christmas? Is that it for another year?
Well, as we start 2018 and some of us will no doubt be trying to make some New Year’s resolutions, what about some insights and lessons from the Epiphany story to help us on our way:
Be alert, pause and look – you’ll see special and amazing things you might otherwise miss.
Even when you’re not sure where you’re heading, set out anyway.
Go out of your way to give something to someone else.
Be prepared to risk, and to speak up for truth and right.
Know that you don’t bring all the gifts – others will have their own gifts to offer and they’re important too.
You too can find real joy in an encounter with Jesus – it might just change you…