Sunday 6 January 2013
Once upon a time a wise woman lived outside a village. Children doubted her wisdom and planned a test. A boy caught a bird and approached the woman with the bird hidden in his hands. “Is my bird alive or dead?”, he asked. If she answered, “Alive”, he would crush the bird in his hands. If “Dead”, he would open his hands and his bird would go free. It was a perfect trick.
“My child,” she said with compassion, “The answer to your clever question is simple. The choice is yours.”
The Wise Men in our Christmas story are led confidently to the child in the manger. They know all the answers. However, they expect regal power and meet a child. They look for the gleam of wealth and find abject poverty. They seek personal recognition but have to return another way, incognito. Their journey challenges rather than comforts them and they now travel with new questions.
At Christmas, God questions and gently probes us, longing for us to love justice and do mercy, to care for the vulnerable first and to live fully inclusive lives. This we often find complex, painful and difficult. However the amazing, generous response to our Christmas Appeal and our packed Christmas services show that people are truly searching and actively putting others first, even when money is tight. This Christmastide we have been richly blessed and we have so much to be thankful for.
Many who seek God are guided (and often surprised) by the reassuring light and healing love of the Christmas Child who inspires us to live differently. Looking outward and looking forward, this is our Epiphany wisdom.
The Rt Revd Peter Hullah