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Thought for the month – A ‘Veganuary’ Epiphany.

Article posted on 8 January 2019 Leave a Comment

You know Christmas is well and truly over, or at least I do, when I find my in-box is full of the sorts of adverts designed to make me look at myself with dissatisfaction: gym membership deals, de-tox powders and, in recent years, emails suggesting that I might wish to off-set the Christmas turkey and wheels of cheese with a month of plant-based grazing for ‘Veganuary’.

I was hastily deleting the backlog of these emails (and the guilt-trip that seems to accompany them) when my little daughter bounced in with the news that ‘Sorry Mummy, the wise men are a bit early at the stable as their legs are too tired and baby Jesus can’t wait any more for his presents.’

This timely interruption was to let me know that she had updated our little felt nativity set, which goes up every year before Christmas, to include the wise men. In church we celebrate the arrival of the wise men on the 6th January at Epiphany, so our little felt kings start their journey on the window sill and make their way to the manger with the children moving them along at intervals over Christmas. A couple of years ago they arrived by Lego train but since that service seems to have been disbanded, she was clearly feeling for them!

In real time, the wise men, wise women and their camel caravan would have had a further two years travelling to do and didn’t arrive at the manger at all, but at the house that Mary, Joseph and a young toddler Jesus were living in when Jesus was about two years old. But I am glad for the feast of Epiphany, falling where it does, and its timely reminder that January is not (just) for regretting the Christmas excesses and making resolutions for self improvement.

Whilst my children firmly maintain that bringing a baby gifts of gold (for kingship), frankincense (for holiness) and myrrh (a symbol of death) is just ridiculous (‘obviously, they should have brought toys’), to me they’ve turned out to be not only symbols of who Jesus is, but also the gift of a reminder about what is important for the year ahead.

With the media (and even our own human nature) suggesting we look at ourselves with dissatisfaction and invest in this diet or that regime for our betterment, that gift of gold reminds me to count, and be thankful for, life’s rich blessings – because there are many. In a world where it is easy to be preoccupied with superficial things, the frankincense reminds me to watch for holiness, to look for God at work in the small things of life. And the myrrh? Well none of us likes to be reminded of our own mortality, least of all me, but as a wise woman (who just so happens to live in the house adjoining the church) once said to me ‘No one gets out of this world alive!’ There is nothing like the uncomfortable realisation that life is fragile and fleeting to make us realise that it is a gift – and one to be both lived and treasured.

Not so much a new years resolution as a personal epiphany, perhaps. And not being completely immune to the pressures of the media I did dust off my trainers, and see whether the family were up for going meat-free in January. The children were absolutely delighted with the idea, their only caveat being that they could be the sorts of vegetarians that eat roast chicken….

Happy New Year!

Angela Brennan

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