Having wished many people all the best for the new year, we come to Epiphany. A new beginning? At times, it seems more like an ending, so I add in HOPE! It might be that the bells are not ringing anymore, the Christmas decorations have been put away, the cards are collected, and I am sure by now all the left-over food has been eaten or given to the birds. No doubt that this year more than any other that we have experienced is said with HOPE. Hope that with the vaccines, COVID-19 will be overcome, and a new year will have dawned. HOPE means looking forward and is a gift of God.
In some countries Epiphany will be celebrated by giving presents to one another in memory of the Magi who brought gifts that had special meanings – gifts with a purpose. The story is in Matthew’s Gospel 2 v1-12. Last week we looked at faith and now we turn to HOPE. Biblical hope is inseparable from faith in God because of what God did in the past, preparing for the coming of Christ, and what God is doing now through His Son Jesus Christ. HOPE on its own seems to be just a thing that is explained in many ways but with God it is a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul. Because of Christian’s having faith, they have an assurance that God’s promises are real and there is a list of people who have found it is just like that for themselves when God is with them in Hebrews 11 and HOPE from God never disappoints.
Going back to the reading about the visitation of the Magi. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. They had seen the star, followed the star, saved the child from Herod, all before they were certain that the star had brought them to the child who was the new king, the Messiah of God’s promise and the one they had brought the gifts for – a gift of gold for a king, frankincense for deity and myrrh for a special death. As we have seen the lights going out, we remember the promise that the Christ light never goes out and we have God’s HOPE and CHRIST’S HOPE forever.
As I was preparing this week’s THOUGHTS the news came that we had to go on Lockdown. This will mean difficulty for many people in all kinds of ways. Let us be aware of people who need help, especially those who will not ask.
Let us pray that the Lord will help us to recognise those people and in a gentle way, get to know them as a friend. That might be all that they need to help them through these days ahead of us.
Father God lead us in the right way to be like the good Samaritan, to act when we see a need and show by what we do the love of your Son Jesus Christ. Amen
At times like this it is good to have a laugh. I saw the following stories in a past Grace magazine.
Each Sunday the minister told the children a story. One day he brought a telephone to illustrate the idea of prayer.
“You talk to people but don’t see them on the other end of the line,” he began. The children nodded. “Well talking to God is like talking on the telephone. He’s on the other end, but you can’t see him. He’s listening though.” Just then a little boy piped up and asked, “What’s His number?”
A little girl became restless as the preacher’s sermon dragged on and on. Finally, she leaned over to her mother and whispered, “Mummy, if we give him the money now, will he let us go?”
There is the story of a preacher who got up one Sunday and announced to his congregation, “I have good news and bad news. The good news is, we have enough money to pay for our new building programme. The bad news is, it’s still in your pockets.”