A letter from Will for the Redbourn Common Round
I wonder what your favourite Christmas present was this year? I was hoping for a jab which, in my mind, would have been the best present any of us could receive at the moment. But I’m way down the list so perhaps that will be an Easter present for me instead.
But my favourite present this year was actually an ice cream machine. The fact that the weather is cold and miserable and we’re in December makes it seem such a frivolous choice. But after all we’ve been going through in the pandemic, somehow the incongruity has made it all the more fun. Another gift to go with it, wrapped separately but from the same people, provided an ice cream recipe book from a famous ice cream duo in Vermont, USA (you may know who I’m talking about).
It will be really fun to try the recipes and different combinations but it is also, somehow, such a hopeful present. It is a gift that looks forward to warmer weather and better times – which, quite frankly, is all we can do at the moment. We long for life to become less restricted, scary and stressful and for us to be able to enjoy things with fun and laughter and other people. It will happen but it feels a long way off at the moment.
And as I think about gifts and of things that are a long way off, I’m reminded of the Epiphany story and the magi and their long journey bearing gifts to bring to Jesus. Theirs was not an easy path either, but a long and dangerous trek experiencing vulnerability in the face of power, and insecurity and thinly veiled threat, which, in this story, is represented in the person of Herod. And yet the magi, these mystical Kingly astronomers and seekers, persisted and were rewarded with great joy as they finally reached what they had been searching for and came to an encounter with the infant Jesus. They brought with them odd gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh that each said something about who Jesus was and what his life will come to be about. And then the magi depart, and head for home but in a different direction and on another path, symbolising the way their lives have changed course through this encounter.
Like everybody, I long achingly for the end of the pandemic and for the risks to subside and for us to be able to hug and laugh and enjoy the company of others without having to count to see if the group is too big. And my new ice cream maker symbolises something of that joy and longing. But like the magi, I also don’t want us to settle back into the old, well worn pathways of our lives. We can’t go back to where we were, we must travel on, yes, but on a changed tack with a renewed sense of what matters most in life, and with changed horizons and perspectives.
The pandemic has painfully taught us and starkly reminded us of the things that matter most in life – health, family and friends, human contact, prayer, truth, trust, peace and kindness towards others. These are true gifts to cherish now and everyday as we seek to take our lives and I hope, the life of our whole nation, in a different direction.
May 2021 be for you, and your loved ones, a year of blessing, health and more freedom as we journey on a different path together.