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December 2016

Hilary writes: Journey to the Manger

Many years ago, after a year that had been particularly difficult and troubling, Henry van Dyke wrote a short story called The Other Wise Man.  He said later that he did not know where the story had come from – ’out of the air perhaps’.

The ‘other’ wise man in the story is Artaban, who set out to join the rather better known wise visitors on their pilgrimage to visit Jesus.  Before he left, he sold everything he had and bought a sapphire, ruby and pearl to take as gifts for the child.  He never did find his travelling companions because he stopped to tend to a refugee lying ill and exhausted in the road.  This first act of kindness ended with him giving away his sapphire so that his journey could continue.

When Artaban eventually reached Bethlehem, his companions had gone and Jesus and his parents had fled to safety.  Determined to continue his pilgrimage, his journey was delayed once again when he stopped to save a young baby from one of Herod’s soldiers.  The baby’s safety came in exchange for his ruby.

Years passed and he covered many miles, with only the pearl left in his pocket.  Just as he was losing hope of ever finding him he arrived in Jerusalem where Jesus was about to be crucified. Within moments of finally coming face to face with Jesus, he stopped, moved by the pleadings of a young girl about to be sold into slavery. He rescued her, giving away his pearl to seal her freedom.

As he handed over the last of his gifts, the world grew dark and the earth shook as Jesus died on the cross.  In the tremors, Artaban was struck by a falling roof tile.  As the old man lay dying, he cried out in anguish and regret that he had never seen Jesus nor given him his gifts. In the silence that followed he heard the voice of Jesus say:

I was a stranger and you welcomed me, sick and you cared for me, imprisoned and you visited me. 

Artaban whispered back: When did I welcome you, care for you and visit you? I have never seen your face. 

And Jesus replied: When you did it for the least of my sisters and brothers, you did it for me.

Artaban knew that his journey had ended.  He had found Jesus.  His treasures had been accepted.

There have been good and uplifting moments in 2016, but also some profoundly sad and difficult ones right across the world. As this year ends and a new one begins let’s gather together at the manger to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Let’s pray for the world. Let’s commit ourselves to working for an end to division and discrimination. And let’s fill the world with treasures of love, kindness and hope.   Hilary

Christmas Eve Nativity with Donkey!

This year we will be continuing the tradition of a Mission Community service on Christmas Eve at 4pm in St Andrew’s Colyton.  As usual, we will tell the story of Jesus’ birth, sing carols and everyone is very welcome to dress up (or not!) as angels, shepherds and wise men.  Do come and celebrate Jesus’ birth! Please see the downloadable leaflet on the welcome page for details of all Christmas services around the Mission Community.


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