On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11, NIV)
The arrival of the wise men is usually something we think about as part of the Christmas accounts. Epiphany, the day we remember their visit to Jesus, is the first day after Christmas - for us, the 12 days are over, and all our decorations should be packed away!
It's a bit of an odd story: the Magi come with gifts that seem unusual for a small child; they end up at the wrong place; and they have a dream that warns them to go home a different way.
You would be very welcome at our 10:30am service in St Andrew, Cuffley, this Sunday.
The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants for ever; his kingdom will never end.’ (Luke 1:30-33, NIV)
What is it that we are looking forward to at Christmas? Presents, family, food? Maybe we’re not looking forward to Christmas at all: it’s a time of sadness, rather than joy. Are we looking forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus, or are we looking forward to Boxing Day and the rest that brings?
The promise the angel brought to Mary is a promise of a king who will reign forever. Jesus is the king who will bring peace with God, and who will restore the kingdom of God. This is the promise of Christmas, and it’s a promise that continues now. It's a promise that, one day, God will put everything right, and we will have perfect rest.
Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2, NIV)
Advent is not just about getting ready to celebrate Christmas, but also when we think about Jesus return. We don't know when it will come, but we do know that it will come. How should we live as we wait for that day to arrive?