"He was born under a lucky star", we say when we meet someone who is very fortunate in some way or another - for example, if someone is very gifted musically.
Great people usually do not want to clasp on to their talents exclusively - they are to be used and shared.
It was nearly a century ago that a great musician made a crucial decision. Sir Henry Walford Davies gave up the somewhat sheltered life of a composer and the fame of public performances, to bring the riches of music to the general public. He had a great gift for this. Radio was fairly new, bringing with it new opportunities. Walford Davies used it to bring classical music to a huge new audience. Ralph Vaughn Williams, his friend and fellow musician, said of him: "He went out to people to show them what he had learnt about eternity and beauty."
The feast of the Epiphany, which we celebrate on 6th January and for the following weeks, reminds us that Jesus went out to the world of humanity. He was shown, at birth, not just to Jewish shepherds but to the Magi, representatives of the whole world. God's purposes are seen - he wants to share the love and compassion of Christ with the whole world, represented by the wise men.
On the feast of the Epiphany we celebrate this glorious truth. Non-Jewish wise men coming to worship and bring gifts to the infant Jesus. A glorious declaration that God's Son has come into the world for all God's children everywhere, as the Saviour of all. The Good News of God's love in Christ is freely offered to the whole human race. Whoever and wherever people are, they have simply to want and to trust in God's grace and it is theirs.
What can we learn from all this? What lessons are there for us, living 2000 years after these events took place? Finding Jesus today requires the simplicity of the shepherds and the enquiring minds of the wise men, open to awe and wonder. Possessing the scriptures and being religious is not enough if these two forces are not allowed to work their grace on the human heart and mind. Then may we use and share our gifts and talents for the good of others.
In the words of the Church's advertising campaign from a few years ago: "Wise men and women seek him still."
After the Toy Service at All Saints' Church, Wickhambrook on Sunday 5th December we were able to donate thirty five toys to Bury St Edmunds Social Services for needy children in their care. Very many thanks to all those who generously donated a gift and to Jackie Chester who delivered the gifts to Social Services.
Jackie says that when she delivered the toys to the family centre in Bury St Edmunds the lady who took them in was quite overwhelmed with the generosity of our small congregations.
She asked Jackie to pass on her thanks and told her it will make a real difference this year as they have families who have recently moved into the area with absolutely nothing.
Thank you everyone for promoting the true meaning of Christmas.
May God bless you and grant to you, and to all whom you love, a truly happy and blessed New Year.
With every blessing.
Rev'd Stephen Abbott