Epiphany of the Lord – 5th January
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With the Feast of the Epiphany approaching we are able to notice how the wise men lay down their gifts at the feet of Jesus. What I particularly notice about this story is not just their generosity but also their gentleness to give thanks to God in the place they had not expected to visit. They had thought that their wisdom and knowledge would have been acknowledged in the halls of the powerful but instead were led to a stable. They thought that their gifts would win them favour by appearing appropriate to celebrate the birth of a King, yet they found that they knelt at a crib. They thought that they would do the most appropriate and relevant thing but found that they needed to return home by a different way never to be heard of again. The urge to be powerful, spectacular and relevant can linger in our own hearts. Yet often we find that we can appear powerless, ordinary and mundane. We do not have all the answers, but we can seek to live the question of where do we find Christ in our everyday lives?
The three gifts that we bring before God each day are our money, our treasure and our concerns. This may seem pretty obvious but our bank accounts, our diaries and our priorities shape who we become and what we consider important. They are a visible record of who we are becoming and what we notice. They can be a useful guide to observing what we say is important and how we actually place the emphasis of our lives. They become a theological statement of how God is present at the heart of our lives and who we truly follow. Each day presents the opportunity to notice what is enlivening our hearts or what is consuming us. We too are called to live our lives in a way which allows us to centre on the direction that God wishes us to follow. We discover that our lives can be Good News for ourselves and for others. We start to become aware of how God shapes our world and invites our response in a way which seeks faith, hope and love.
My thoughts at this time go out to the many communities who have been affected by bush fires. I am very conscious of the fires on the coast of Victoria and New South Wales. Having lived through the fires that ravaged Canberra in 2003 I am aware of not just the immediate impact of loss of homes but also the trauma which lingers longer than the smoke. The devastation that has occurred around Lake Conjola, Mallacoota, Batemans Bay, Mogo and Cobargo is hard to comprehend. The rebuilding of infrastructure and the rebuilding of lives go hand in hand. The next week will not be easy as many of the things we take for granted like shelter, power, food, and water will need to be re-established. We pray for those men and women who often perform this work, often unseen and in difficult circumstances. We pray for their safety and for the communities they serve. Often it is this dedication which defines the human spirit to live your life for others. May we all be able to notice that our lives are built on a solid foundation of seeking out the good in all things especially when immediate circumstances can seem to render us powerless. As we enter into 2020 may we review where we spend our money and time which indicate what we consider most important.
Fr. John Armstrong