A New Year brings with it moments of hope, opportunity and joy — it also brings with it ... lots of stress! And that is compounded by unseasonable weather, half-frozen school buildings, frozen pipes and perhaps an emergency or two.
As we enter into the new year for Memorial, things are much the same. Lots of excitement about new projects, new ideas, new energy and new people in our community — and all the stress that comes with that. At least a few of us (your rector included) are dealing with frozen pipes at home, and perhaps a few other stressors and challenges as well.
It is perhaps a good time to reflect on the Christmas story once more as we head into Epiphany. The baby Jesus has been born and the initial excitement and joy have, perhaps, been set aside for worry about more mundane details — what does this kid eat? Why won’t he sleep? How are we going to get home? CAN we go home? What about Herod? I hear Egypt is nice this time of year! And then these three strange men show up.
Bearing strange gifts.
When, in busy or exciting or stressful or worried times, we are presented with similar strange situations, we have essentially two choices. To ‘lean in’ to the oddity of the moment and see where it takes us ... or to push it aside and say we are too busy. Too busy for your odd clothes and your odd gifts, we have priorities, people!
But a lot of interesting things can come from odd gifts. It is my fervent hope that this Epiphany season and perhaps all of this next year Memorial may be blessed with some odd gifts — and that we will be challenged to think how we use them, take advantage of them, and live in to God’s call for us. And I pray for some odd gifts in your life as well. An untimely visitor at work, an unexpected invitation to a dinner or a conversation, or maybe just a lot of frankincense (which will make some of you quite happy).
Whatever those gifts are, I pray that we embrace them the same way Mary and Joseph did. With joy and wonder. With open hearts and open minds. And with a willingness to go where the Spirit and this newborn baby led them. May it lead you somewhere special this year.