The feast of the Epiphany which we mark today recalls the visit of the Magi and their bringing of the gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh to lay at the feet of the Christ-child. As someone with an Epiphany birthday, there’s always been a heavy irony about the focus on the gifts at Epiphany as my own experience of receiving Epiphany gifts was that it often skipped and became a single event at Christmas. A supposedly larger joint Christmas/birthday present often left the younger me feeling short-changed.

As this Epiphany is my 60th birthday, I know that I have a choice of either celebrating the fact or trying to pretend it’s not happening. There’s certainly a lot in the wider world that I would like to wish were not there and, for those with a mind to do so, there’s a lot that could be complained about.

In that context, I was struck by a very short sentence in one of the readings over Christmas from Paul’s letter to the Colossians. ‘And be thankful.’ In the midst of other exhortations, Paul inserts that punchy phrase (Col 3: 15). As well as other advice for maintaining our spiritual selves, Paul encourages us to be thankful. So I will take the advice of a former vicar, ‘Count your blessings every day. Name them, one by one’. It’s Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for the soul.

Jeff Claxton