After a long build-up the feasting comes to an end and the decorations are packed into their boxes. Another year done and dusted. One last celebration as the new year clicks over then it’s back to work, back to routine.
Twelve days after Christmas day is Epiphany – the celebration of the visit of the Magi, those wise men who brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Christ child. These were men of learning and significant wealth coming to pay homage to one greater than themselves.
Obviously a new king would be born in a palace so, full of expectation, they made for Herod’s palace in Jerusalem. Except Herod knew of no new born King. In fact, determined to ensure the longevity of his own reign, he deceived the Magi, sending them on their way with instructions to let him know when they had found the child.
Having found and worshipped Jesus, and after a revelation of Herod’s intentions, the magi returned home evading the jealous king. Based on the time they had reported first seeing the Christ’s star, the Biblical narrative tells us that Herod tried to destroy the new King by ordering all the local boys two years old and under be killed. This was a horrible and bloody diversion that gives a glimpse of the suffering that would later be experienced by the Prince of Peace.
It is easy at this point to move on, to miss something of the weight of the story. Two years. By the time the magi enquired of king Herod, the Christ’s star had been visible for two years.
In the age of the instant we are often too easily dissuaded. When we can’t find what we want quickly enough we give up and move on. But what of the Magi? It would seem their search for this child took them way more than a quick google and then, having worshipped and presented their gifts, they had to set out on their long return journey.
So, what are you looking for?
Whatever it may be, my prayer for you this year is that you have hope, that wholeness comes to you and that what you seek, you will find. The journey may be long and unpalatable at times. The obvious may not be so obvious, but when you find what you’re looking for the hardship will be worthwhile.
Remember, while we still have today there is hope.