Happy Christmas! No I haven’t lost my senses! If we were in some parts of the World Yesterday would be Christmas Day.
However, thanks to Pope Gregory, Christmas is for us now 25th December – A mere whim of someone in an important position.
This morning we have what is for the majority (if not all) of us a familiar reading. It’s the story of how the Magi or Wise men came to visit Jesus.
Ordinarily we just take it as part of the Jesus story, lots of Nativity plays have this in with the rest!
Today I want to look at it in a slightly different way and see where that leaves us.
I want to look at the Wise Men and try to imagine why it was they left their own countries in the first place.
So where to start. For me it started with a film, which you might have heard of called ‘Ben Hur’ .
Most People will relate that to Chariot Races and the great Charlton Heston but it does tell a lot more about the life of Jesus.
So I decided to read the book on which it is based and made a rather interesting discovery.
If I were to ask you first of all where did the Wise men come from where would you say ? The book suggests that in fact they came from different places and met up in the desert, which then begs the question why?
They met leaving their own cultures behind because they had a spiritual message that there was something else going on, that being the birth of someone who was going to ‘save the world’ .
They left very different cultures, different places. Gaspar the Greek , Balthazar the Egyptian ,and Melchior the Arab .
Yes their guide was a star and the journey long and strenuous , don’t think I’d like to be crossing the Arabian desert on a camel.
They were full of excitement , expectation and that sort of feeling that is purely questioning. ‘ Why am I doing this ?’
The rest of the story is well known that they have to ask for directions and finally get to where they need to be- not always the right place.
It’s what happens then that I want to explore.
Imagine that you’ve travelled all that way and finally come to a baby!
They must have been thinking – duff directions this can’t be the place.
That’s then when the Epiphany happens . I looked up the word just to be sure.
Epiphany is defined as a moment of sudden and great revelation or realisation.
So when they get over the maybe disappointment, thinking that they are in the wrong place they somehow come to the realisation or Epiphany that ‘yes this is the child who will grow up to be the ‘Saviour of the World’ remember that they don’t have the prophets to lead them to this conclusion in their own cultures. That must have been such a great feeling – to be honoured not by man but by God
I think for me there have been many ‘Epiphanies’ along the way of my walk in faith with Jesus like when I realised that God taking my father home when I was a teenager was not the work of a spiteful God or when I felt the call to some kind of ministry .
Times when the real point of my faith have become crystal clear that Jesus gave up his life for me as St. Paul puts it in I Timothy 1 v15 ‘ Jesus Christ came into the world to save Sinners ‘
So the question I leave with you is ; What is/was/are your Epiphany(ies).
Where did you suddenly see the point of Jesus and further more we need both personally and as a church to look at how we can help others ,who have not been so lucky as we have, to a realisation that Jesus is there for them as their personal Saviour , whatever they might have done or maybe not done.
How can we help them to go to that stable and recognise the baby for who he is . I would say first of all we need to go there once in a while with fresh eyes to refresh our experience of ‘ The Saviour of the World’ putting all that we’ve been taught to one side and simply adoring Jesus as the Wise men did .