TODAY, in the 21st century, the story of the Birth of Jesus and of the Epiphany seems to have gone amiss and is misunderstood by many of us, though a great Christian event.
It is very simple at least to me, it is time to rejoice and give thanks to God for the birth of Jesus and the visitation of the Magi, not a time to cause financial embarrassment to families, causing distress and anxiety.
Yes, it is a time to give and receive presents, to have Christmas parties, to have family gatherings and to be joyful, especially for the children.
The story of Christmas is this, other than Gabriel, Mary and Joseph, the first to know of the birth of Jesus were shepherds. They were informed by the angels not to be afraid, to leave their sheep and adore the new-born child.
This they did. The shepherds were probably gentiles, meaning not of the Jewish faith (as Jesus was), persons of another nationality, also being classified as being heathen. They did as instructed, bearing no gifts but themselves, what could be more valuable?
The next to visit Jesus were wise men from the east. As stated in the Bible they followed the star which led them to Herod the Great, who was king of the Jews. Herod was a tyrant and feared for his throne. He had massacred many people, including his wife and sons, to keep his kingship, yet he told them he wished to see the babe.
The wise men then went to Jesus with gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, a prophetic allusion to the persecution unto death which awaited the ‘man of sorrows’. Again, interestingly, they were gentiles. An angel of God told them to go home another way as Herod the Great was looking to murder Jesus.
The importance of the wise men’s gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh was not of their financial value but what they represented.
So Jesus was born for all men, women and children.
Rejoice and God bless.
St Mary’s and St Peter’s Church