This is the first magazine of 2016, so I would like to begin by wishing you a Happy New Year.
This is the season of Epiphany when we think again about Christmas, but through the eyes of the ‘Magi’, mysterious visitors from the East. Epiphany can mean “revealing of Christ to the nations”, and these visitors are a powerful symbol of that. Matthew’s gospel gives us a brief crafted account that tradition has built upon. Matthew does not tell us how many there were or what gender or which was their country of origin or even their status.
Art through the ages has developed the scene to depict three men; sometimes all from Persia, sometimes including an African, sometimes giving a range of ages from young to old. We even have given them names and the status of royalty. The range shown is very inclusive. That Matthew includes the story shows how important he thought it was to record the visit of people from another land with another language and a different faith. This gives a powerful picture of the Christ who draws ALL people to him.
But it is a picture with a dark side too. The outward journey was long and arduous and led them into the dangerous company of Herod.
The Magi have a moment of calm and serenity when following the star again they come upon the Christ child. They bow their knees offering their gifts and return home transformed; using a route to avoid the power hungry Herod.
Their encounter with Herod was to bring disastrous results as out of his fear of another king, Herod massacres the boys in Bethlehem. Matthew tells us how warned by an angel, Joseph leads Mary and Jesus to safety in Egypt.
What a contemporary story this sounds; families fleeing to safety as refugees in fear of their lives because of the unbelievable cruelty of people to each other. In the midst of the horror there are signs of hope. There are groups now working to bring relief and help to those in need.
These visitors from the East remind us that Christ does draw all people to himself, even us. We are challenged to be open and welcoming ourselves.
Rev Bill Henderson