Friday, December 27, 2013

Epiphany - We have come to Worship Him

Numbers 24:17, Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:1-12 and Acts 7:51, 54-60


What motivates you? What and who guides and inspires us?

Epiphany means manifestation,  or, sometimes, unveiling or revealing.  The idea is that an epiphany is when something is revealed to us that was previously hidden. 

The magi were blessed. They were given the guidance of a star to lead them to a sacred place yet they need to follow, they need to be obedient to follow. They made the effort to leave it all behind and to follow (sounds like other people we will hear about who encounter Jesus). Has it ever occurred to you as terribly sad that the chief priests and teachers of the law seemed to know the prophecies so well that when they heard the story of the Magi they could tell them exactly where to look, but they didn’t make the trip themselves? The religious leaders of Judah couldn’t be bothered to make the 6-mile journey to worship the Messiah, but these quirky foreigners of indeterminate religion could. Foreigners, or Gentiles, who had not just gone six miles but had crossed whole countries. The elite of the religious Jews wouldn’t even go to a neighbouring town – it took outsiders to make sure the Son of God was worshipped.
The story of the Magi is so special because they are the first people who are described explicitly as worshipping Jesus. Perhaps we can learn something from them too.

Whoever these mysterious wise people were they travelled some distance to get to Jesus’ house (no stable or cave mentioned here).  If they were rich enough to bring such opulent gifts then they were rich enough to have been robbed on the hazardous journey so it was not without danger. It is probable that they travelled with servants and when we view the story we realise that it is important that Matthew tells this story. Whoever they were they made the effort, they came prepared, they were full of joy, they saw the child, they came and worshipped, they opened their treasures and they would never be the same again.

Pondering Advent
What have you not done this Advent that you mean to do?
Where has God surprised you?
How has God spoken to you in new ways this Advent and Christmas?

Things to ponder for the new year
Imagine you were the Bethlehem Innkeeper throughout the year how will you react to those who are different or foreigners?
What are your spiritual resolutions?
              What will you offer to God this year?
              What will you lay down?
Would you consider establishing a prayer triplet to support and encourage others? 

Almighty God, Everlasting Father. Prince of Peace,

Thank you for the wisdom and strength of the magi  that enabled them to leave self behind to follow what they believed to be right.

I cannot see around the corner, I do not fully know what tomorrow will bring. The paths I have chosen have not always been right but I am thankful that you, the Holy One travels with me.  In my today and in my tomorrow may I trust you and may my past journey be an offering to you. Restore and guide me for I am willing to listen to you. 



Thursday, December 26, 2013

Boxing Day - Dismiss your Servant in Peace

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah,. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the customs of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God,  Saying: ‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have  prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for  revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your  people Israel.’  Luke 2: 25-32


By boxing day most of us want to put Christmas behind us, we are already contemplating what to do with the cards, trees and wondering about recycling (or at least we really ought to be). 

Joseph and Mary treat the new baby according to the Jewish traditions of their day: he is  circumcised and then, forty days after the birth, Mary and Joseph take the child to the Temple in Jerusalem for Mary’s ritual purification and Jesus’ dedication to God as the firstborn son. They meet two people Simeon and Anna. Simeon is told he will not die until he has met the Messiah and Anna recognises the baby as the fulfilment of God’s promises to Israel.

God uses those who are older, they have hope in the will and purposes of God and shows how “religious duty” is not incompatible to the work of the Holy Spirit.
In a world where our significance can often feel reduced to insignificance we need to remember Anna and Simeon.

Lord, be like treasure to me this Christmas.
Let me be willing to listen when I'm told of your glory.
Take away my fear and bring me peace.
Whatever else I may receive let me be glad to accept you into my life and to share you with those around me.
Let the greatest gift of all simply be you. Amen.



Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Day - The time came for the baby to be born


Psalm 97, Isaiah 62:1-11, Luke 2:1-20 and Titus 2:11-14
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while
Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Christmas is the feast that invites us to come to the manger, just as we are. We find there our Living God, a new-born infant in swaddling clothes who calls out for love and care, as only an infant can. For Christ is dependent on humans, on us, to care for him. We have waited and longed for this moment.
This child arrives gently and humbly. No headlines herald His arrival, only Mary’s embrace and Joseph’s protective presence give witness to His coming. Mary’s “Yes” to the Angel Gabriel ushered salvation to a world that had waited so long; Mary’s Motherhood introduced the salvation of all: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent His Son, born of a woman”. As we approach this manger, may we find the grace to understand how Christ became one of us for love of us! In that grace, may we also discover that the great love of God, newly born in Jesus sleeping in the arms of Mary, inspires us to reach out in concrete acts of compassion to our world, to our neighbours and to one another. We then, so loved and so moved, can become in our time and place, Christ’s heart for the world, a revelation of God’s love here and now.


God of Love, thank you for the gift you have given to me the gift of yourself. On this day as I celebrate your birth, may I take another step closer to you. 
With your guidance, help me to be more loving and thoughtful, less protective and defensive around others. 
May I dedicate this day to renewing my love for you as I share your love with others this day.   Amen