By the time you read this letter you may have made up your mind as to the exact nature of your New Year Resolutions for 2021. Perhaps to give up smoking; to take up more exercise, or a new language, or a new hobby, or something else that you believe will improve the quality of your life – or maybe even just to forget 2020 and all the pain and uncertainty it brought!
On January 6th we celebrate the Epiphany – the revealing of Christ’s true identity – by remembering the arrival of the wise men with most unusual gifts.
One Christian feminist once wrote, ’What if the three wise men had been three wise women? Well, they would have asked for directions and arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, brought a casserole and given the child much more practical gifts.’
The gifts brought by the wise men do seem most impractical ones for a small child, but they point to Christ’s true identity. Gold was a sign of kingship; Frankincense was used by priests in the Temple and was a sign of Christ’s priestly role – his bridge-building between man and God; and Myrrh was used to embalm bodies and is taken to be a sign of Jesus’ future death on the cross for the sins of humanity.
Apart from these unusual gifts, the actions of the wise men can teach us some things that we need to be prepared to do, if we like them, wish to discover Jesus.
Like them we need to be prepared to search. The wise men had to be prepared to go on a journey to find Jesus – to leave behind the familiar and comfortable and seek for a king in the most unexpected place. In 2021 might we be more willing to search for Jesus – to put some effort into seeking the truth of him out? Maybe that will mean taking part in the Alpha Course we are beginning at the end of January; or taking part in some of the Year of the Bible events that we will be running throughout the year; or even coming to church.
Like them we also need to exercise faith. I am certain that their journey must have been a hard one – they would have felt like giving up at times – but their faith and determination helped them to keep on keeping on until their faith was rewarded. What are we going to be placing our faith and trust in throughout 2021? Is it in something or someone that is really worth placing our faith and trust in – someone or something that will be there with us at the end of the journey?
Part of my New Year Resolution for 2021 will be to continue on my search for a greater knowledge of Jesus Christ and a greater willingness to put my faith and trust in him – two things that I believe will improve my quality of life.
It’s an adventure I invite you to join me on throughout 2021.
Yours in Christ,