If we have not had a chance to do this before today, may we wish offer you our very best wishes and our prayers prayer for a blessed 2017.
Today though is the Feast of the Epiphany. The revelation of Jesus to the nations. There are all kind of traditions you could try observing today if you felt up to it. You could chalk a blessing above your front door frame, there’s a recipe available for an Epiphany cake but the one I would suggest you definitely swerve is the tradition of a bit of winter swimming in a public place which the Eastern Orthodox Christians are very fond of. They re-enact the Baptism of Christ which we will be remembering in a more comfortable way on Sunday!
I was thinking last week about how quickly we pack up the decorations and say goodbye to Christmas and yet somehow that is when the real work of Christmas begins – the ‘incarnational’ ministry we all share to be (as) Christ in our homes, workplace and communities.
By lunchtime yesterday we had booked 10 funerals for families who had obviously had a difficult time this Christmas and yesterday we took two funerals for North Manchester General for people who either had no families or the family had relinquished the right to arrange a funeral. Pam and Nick took the lead on these two unusual and difficult services and they did a brilliant job of it too.
At Epiphany, when we remember the wise men entering the room where Jesus lay, they continued with the thrust and theme of the Christmas story. The God who honours Mary, Joseph and the shepherds (who have zero status and are on the very edge of society) decides that it is equally important that the rich and powerful come to see what he values. I can’t imagine what the wise men thought as they deposited their valuable and poignant gifts but I know that they didn’t turn back and claim that it made no sense. They saw beyond earthly status and onto something more. Pam and Nick did a bit of that yesterday as they celebrated the lives of two people who you might mistakenly judge had little by the way of status.
I pray that our ministry together in 2017 might reveal something of where God places value and, in doing so, might reveal him in a new way to the world.
Happy Epiphany and I hope to see some of you on Sunday.
Rev Eddie Roberts