The end of January 2016 saw me packing my earthly possessions into my car and driving across the country to begin a new chapter - a new adventure in my life and ministry. I arrived on the 31st of January and my first Sunday was the 7th of February, Transfiguration. This first year has been a blur of activity. Weddings, baptisms, funerals and worship. Lots and lots of worship.
We have come together recently to celebrate the birth of Christ. A tiny baby, wrapped in rags and placed in a food trough. He and his parents fled shortly after his birth to Egypt. A place where they didn't know anyone but each other, where they didn't speak the language and where they hoped for safety as the newborn's life was at risk. Our Messiah, along with his parents, was a refugee.
I remember watching news reports about a year ago, of Syrian refugees coming to Canada and being greeted by our Prime Minister. I wonder how many of these new Canadians have looked back to where they were before they found safety in our beloved country?
In our sacred story we hear of three magi coming to visit the infant Jesus at a house. They arrived with gold, frankensense and myrrh. Gold we understand as a universal currency. The other two are used for preparation of a body for burial...it would be like bringing embalming fluid to a baby shower today. A strange gift at first glance. But maybe, just maybe, these Magi knew that the baby they were kneeling before, to whom they had come to pay homage, was going to be sacrificed for humanity? Could they have seen that? Is that why they brought the gifts they did?
We will gather on the 1st of January to celebrate the naming and circumcision of Jesus. On the 8th we will gather to celebrate Epiphany. The actual date of Epiphany is the 6th. Why not celebrate those events together? Because they deserve to be celebrated separately.
Epiphany is the time when we remember the gifts we have been given. Not necessarily for Christmas, but the gifts we have been given from God that compliment our lives. The gifts that are uniquely ours and no-one else's.
This week I will celebrate the lives of two women. One who was 91 when she died, the other in her mid-50's. These women were not related and did not know each other in life. And yet their celebrations of life will be similar in that their loved ones will gather to remember the good and not-so-good times that defined their lives. They will share stories and promote the legacy of these ladies.
Let this season of Epiphany fill your life with light. Let it guide us to the bright star that shows us the way to the Christ-child. The one who will set us free. Who loves us like no other. And always will.