Tomorrow we celebrate Epiphany in the church, although, accurately it is not the Feast of Epiphany until 6th January. To most people Epiphany is the day when we recall the visit of the Magi to the child in the manger where they offered precious gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. To the Boyle household it is the day we celebrate one of our greatest gifts: the birth of our lovely daughter, Joanne. This year we will celebrate 27 years of the joy of this beautiful girl.
But that is Wednesday. Tomorrow we will celebrate the wisemen visiting Jesus. I am not expecting many to attend the service in our lovely church: we are in Tier 4 and many will stay at home. But for some, tomorrow will be the first contact they have had without anybody outside their own home for days and days. They will come together to pray, to listen, to reflect and to give thanks for their blessings.
My sermon for tomorrow focuses upon the three gifts delivered by the Magi and I will be asking the question: whatever happened to them next? Where did they go? What were they used for? The simple answer that we have absolutely no idea! The Bible never, ever mentions them again.
Did Mary and Joseph use them to pay for the hospitality in Bethlehem? Did they use them to secure their escape to Egypt? Did the gifts pay for the living expenses of the Holy Family during their time as refugees? Did Joseph and Mary use them to pay for an education for their firstborn? Did Jesus use them when he set out on his mission and ministry thirty years later? We do not know the answer. We can only speculate.
But the fact that we don’t know, might be the whole point anyway. We are the ones who bring attention to the precious commodities each year – God doesn’t.
Does this not prompt us to consider the real value of material wealth?
My cousin is a self made millionaire. He is the most lovely and unassuming of men, who made his fortune through sheer hard work. But I know absolutely, that he would have given away every single penny he had, if he could have saved his teenage son from dying of cancer.
And looking back over the past year, what have we missed the most? The chance to indulge ourselves extravagantly, or the simple act of hugging somebody we love and care for?
The vicarage is quite remote. We don’t have neighbours, no adjoining gardens, not even a street to step out onto. During times of lockdown we just don’t see anybody (except the Amazon Delivery man, of course 😂)
Each Thursday over the summer months, we clapped and rang our bells to the silence of the graveyard. We have really missed seeing people, sharing time with other people.
As we move into 2021 we will all look forward to that most precious of all commodities, far more so than Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh – the blessing of being able to spend time with one another again and giving and receiving a hug.