Suffolk's Bishop reflects at start of 2016
Epiphany: 'Giving Our Best'
The Rt Revd Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, writes about how he is challenged by the magi who came to worship and bring gifts to Jesus.
The coming of the mysterious magi from the East opens up to all of us God’s gift of Jesus to the world. It is the magi who show us how we are to respond to this immeasurable gift. We may think that our first response should be to tell others about this greatest world-changing event.
But that, as it was for the magi, is to be our second response; our first is to come and pay homage to the new born ourselves.
Adoration then action; always that way round.
Worship is our first response to the coming of Jesus.
Then we see that the magi did not come empty handed; they brought gifts as an expression of their worship, and gifts that both reflected the best of themselves and the true nature of the one they had come to adore.
I am always challenged by the Epiphany, and not least by the question, ‘is my gift a reflection of the best of myself and of the true nature of the child I have come to adore?’
I try to answer the question through self-examination – asking where am I holding back in my faithfulness, my devotion and service? I also look literally at my gift – my financial gift – to the church as an expression of my devotion to Jesus. I ask, am I giving of my best and does my gift reflect the nature of the one I have come to worship? Scripture’s testimony to tithing guides our response, but I find I still need to ask, am I giving our Lord of my best, and where am I holding back?
Jesus makes it clear that our gift of what we have is not to be our whole response.
He chastises the Pharisees for tithing without observing God’s commands of justice and love (Luke 11:42). We give of what we have, and we give all of who we are through our worship and service and everything we do. By our attitudes, our commitment and our actions we reveal who Jesus is to those around us.
Adoration and action. That is the challenge, but as the magi knew – it is also the gift.
A blessed Epiphany-tide to you all
(Photo: The adoration of the magi depicted in a 19th century window at St Peter and St Paul in Aldeburgh
A bit about the Right Revnd Martin Seeley
He was enthroned as the 11th Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich on Saturday 20 June 2015. He was born in Portsmouth on 29 May 1954. He studied at Jesus College, Cambridge. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in 1976 and a Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree in 1978. In 1976, he entered Ripon College Cuddesdon to study for ordained ministry. He then attended Union Theological Seminary, New York City, from which he graduated with a Master of Sacred Theology (STM) degree in 1978. Martin is married to Jutta Brueck. She is also a Church of England priest and was priest in charge of St James, Cambridge. They have two children: Anna and Luke.
(The views expressed here are those of the author, not of Heart 4 Ipswich, and are intended to stimulate constructive debate. We welcome your thoughts upon the ideas expressed here, posted as comments below)