What are your expectations this year? Have you made some resolutions? Vowed to stay off the cakes and get on the celery? To sort the paperwork mountain that has been threatening to overwhelm you since June? To finally run that marathon you promised to sign up for in 2008? All noble goals indeed but as we stare down another year, no doubt packed with busyness and demands from all angles, it seems like a good time to ask God about his agenda for us this year.
This week we celebrate the story of the Magi, or wise men, who came to visit Jesus on his birth. I wonder what they thought as they approached the place where this new King lay. What were there expectations as they clutched their gifts? Did what they found surprise them? God's upside down agenda: God made man, vulnerable as a new born, born into poverty, friend to the outcast, suffering servant.
And so I finish with this poem by Elizabeth Jennings and the hint at the possibility that God might just show up where, and in the way, we least expect him to this year.
Words for the Magi
'Shall I bring you wisdom, shall I bring you power?'
The first great stranger said to the child.
Then he noticed something he'd never felt before -
A wish in himself to be innocent and mild.
'Shall I bring you glory, shall I bring you peace?'
The second stranger said when he saw
The star shine down on entire helplessness.
The gift that he offered was his sense of awe.
'Shall I show you riches' the third one began
Then stopped in terror because he has seen
A God grown up and a tired tempted man.
'Suffering's my gift' he said
'That is what I mean.'
This reflection was first given on Friday 4th January as part of Morning Prayer at Ripon College Cuddesdon.