Thursday, 29 December 2016
The longing days of January have left behind the consumptive hours and the newly stretching evenings recall the present in a muddle of greys and pinks. Paul, slowly growing in stature, struts the Damascus road to the Epiphany of his moment, weighing his conscience with Tarsus. He brings gifts for a King and for you and for me. His three fold wisdom is no magic, but the humility of every Christian, though his is so hard to see.
This is the self finding month when the new is normal and all things seem possible. The fading dark of winter can no longer dissuade the oozing future and the coldest days, perhaps yet to come (those teasings of spring), cannot threaten us for ever.
The Magi’s gifts are opened and, the Christ Child, like every child, finds that the wrapping is of more significance: For it is his own identity. The Name that sanctifies the year’s beginning has cast its meaning on all that follows and time is no longer simply the partner of space but the sacrament of God’s presence.
The threefold mysteries of the Magi’s gifts are a trinity of dispatch: Godhead, Kingship, Death. Here is God. He too shall go back by another way.
We look, pray, for unity, but it slips, like good intentions, through our watery grip. We grasp what is not ours to hold and are disappointed. We should know better by now: that sharpened January, dark and bright by turns, no longer leaves us the option of staying the same.
All these things are a baptism, a bringing in, the washing of a new beginning. It is a doing of what is needful, by accepting the task at hand. We have unpacked the Christmas gifts, and if we are wise will examine them until the twelve nights have passed and then place them, not with the last-year-lights, but where we can savour the salvation they celebrate until the month is out. Such is a contradiction, cocking a snook at the world which wants to forget, in surly fashion, the goodness of things. We shall not, but play with Christingle or candles, with nativity native amongst us, while the world forgets to smile and turns again to its own exile in the worry of life.
But we carry the festivities over to the embarrassment of our neighbours. At least we should. We are the Christmas people and Christus natus est is our song.