I’ve just been out to Grundisburgh to see their Angels and Cribs Festival. It’s great, and Crib Services will be amongst our most popular this year as ever. If you haven’t dome it already, why not put a crib up in your own home? People all over the world find it helps them make the connection between their family celebrations and the real reason for the season. If you’ve got children at home or visiting, reading the Christmas story by the crib and saying a prayer can be very powerful indeed.
At the moment it’s the three wise men that are catching my attention. They were thinkers, scientists, seekers after truth – not so different from us. But they were prepared to really put themselves out in the process, and a risky business it was too, not just travelling but escaping from King Herod’s plot to arrest them by the skin of their teeth.
They were also up for commitment, to get behind the truth wherever they found it. They came prepared, and the gifts they gave stand for the service they were ready to give. Does breaking through the trappings of Christmas and touching base with deep truth appeal to you? Are you ready like the wise men to do something about it and make a difference in the world? If so, those gifts have something to say t o you too.
The Gold is obvious.. If you haven’t made a donation to the DEC yet to help contain the outbreak of Ebola, give them a Christmas present now. Or how about chipping in to relieve the desperate need in the Middle East? And if there’s something left over, try a deposit with the Credit Union , or put something in the Food Bank basket, or play Secret Santa for someone in need. And if you’re flat broke, perhaps someone else will do it for you.
Frankincense stands for worship – we still use it in church today to represent our prayers rising to heaven. Why not get along to your local church or chapel or place of prayer? Be a visible sign of the sort of community we want: one where we get out from behind our own doors, have time for each other, and look together to a good beyond our own. And when you share that special Christmas meal: give thanks, why not give thanks, in whatever way works for you, before you tuck in?
And then Myrrh. It was the Savlon of its day. It stands for the call to us to care. Could you make time to visit someone lonely? Or to really think through that present and write something personal in that card? Christmas can make for family fall-outs too, so look for the best in each other, and meet one another’s needs..
There you have it. Gold, frankincense and myrrh. Easy to remember, with a reminder every time you see a crib. My own experience is that when I manage to remember to do my bit, get out of my own bubble and give, pray and care, I’m the better for it too. It’s a win-win. Everyone’s included. And I would like to wish every one of you a very Merry Christmas indeed, and a tremendous New Year.
As broadcast on Radio Suffolk