Welcome back to this term and my first blog of 2020.
We have all managed to successfully negotiate Christmas with all its contrasting emotions. I almost breathe a sign of relief when I can go back to work, the normality of routine returns as we start a new term. Like the Wise Men, many of us have travelled and returned home; perhaps travelling physically or, perhaps travelling spiritually through the Advent and Christmas story, arriving home with lives having been interrupted by the mystery and wonder of God’s unconditional love, changed by God’s presence in the fragile and vulnerable humanity of our lives.
One of my cycling routes takes me via the Hard in Portsmouth. On the Portsmouth ‘scale’, this is transport ‘super hub’ with bus, train and ferry arriving at the same point. For me it is a convenient half-way point. Before I battle the wind along Southsea seafront, I often grab a cup of tea from the café on the station concourse whilst engaging in people watching. Station platforms are fascinating places particularly around Christmas, where the ordinariness and extra-ordinariness of human life seem to meet. Everyday milling around is suddenly punctuated when a loved one has to say goodbye or see face-to-face those they have been longing to see, and perhaps realising for the first time the true pain that absence from a loved one can bring. Who would have thought Portsmouth train station could be the scene for such epiphanies. There is revelation of the ordinary made extra-ordinary in the radiant face, the intimate moment, a kiss, an encounter, an embrace.
At Christmas, we celebrate God’s love landing visibly with us on earth. The start of term coincides with the feast of the Epiphany, we celebrate God’s love made manifest to all. The Epiphany story featuring the Magi or three kings would, I am sure, have been pictured in many of your Christmas cards. You may feel you know this story well. In fact, we know very little about these mysterious magi, in fact we don’t even know how many magi there were, though Matthew’s Gospel does tell us they brought three gifts; gifts paying homage to Christ as King. The Magi were strangers, foreign figures, gentiles not Jews, guided by a star.
Eventually the Magi found what they were looking for, but it wasn’t what they thought they’d been looking for. The place was not where or what they expected. Yet they journeyed in faith and they stopped, fell to their knees in wonder and adoration, were ‘overwhelmed with joy’ in Christ’s presence, their lives were transformed. And there is the actions for us too.
Have a happy and joyous New Year.