We gathered on a noticeably warmer morning. Is this a sign that winter is drawing to an end or are we being too optimistic?
We are still in the season of Epiphany so we are going to continue to think about the story of the Magi.
My thought process this morning began a couple of weeks ago when I listened to the Radio 4 programme Beyond Belief on the subject of doubt. Why do people of faith find it hard to admit their doubts? Why are people of faith discouraged in any doubting and questioning in their faith establishments? Do we as people of faith feel guilt about our doubts?
And yet we find many examples of doubt in the bible, especially in the psalms and even Jesus himself cried out on the cross ” My God why have you forsaken me?”
For the director of music. For Jeduthun. Of Asaph. A psalm. NIV
1 I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
2 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands,
and I would not be comforted.
3 I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.[b]
4 You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
5 I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;
6 I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart meditated and my spirit asked:
7 “Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favour again?
8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”
10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
13 Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
We prayed for those who are struggling with their lives at the present time. We particularly prayed for the earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria.
To return to the story of the Magi
These guys the Magi set off on what must have been a very significant journey from somewhere in the east. Probably Iraq or Iran from the area known as Persia. A very significant journey indeed and we know that they got lost at some point because they called in on Herod. Did they have doubts on the journey, or for the rest of their lives about the purpose of this journey? These were some of the questions that I wondered about.
- How many days were they on the road?
- Did they lose sight of the star?
- Did they doubt their purpose?
- When they eventually reached Bethlehem and gave their gifts to Jesus parents. Did they have their doubts about what they found. A king born into poverty?
- Apart from them being warned to return home by a different route we know nothing more about the Magi. So what happened to them?
- After this arduous journey how did they feel?
- What sort of doubts might they have had?
- Did they try to follow the story of Jesus the baby they had visited and given generous gifts?
- Did they hear of the horror of the murder of all the infants under 2 ordered by Herod?
- Did they keep in touch somehow and hear about the flight into Egypt?
- The Magi were from a privileged class how long did they live after their journey?
- Did they live long enough to hear about the popular Rabbi who performed miracles?
- Did they live long enough to hear of Jesus death AND his resurrection?
- What ever happened, whatever their doubts, fears and disappointments. Was their something along the way that helped them believe that Jesus was indeed the king they sought.
We cut an apple in half through the centre and not from the stalk. We saw the star shape made by the pips.
- We each had an apple cut in half so we could see a star shape. We took our half apple and went on a slow walk or sit down to chew over some things while we ate our apple.
- What was the star we followed in our own lives?
- We were asked to talk to God about any doubts, fears or disappointments we might have.
- If we have doubts, then it may help to remember a significant time in the past when we felt your faith was real. (During lock down when we told our life stories on Zoom quite a few of us mentioned something significant that had happened to help us believe or come to a faith).
Returning we shared bread and wine, praying for each of us in turn as the wine was poured out.
Each of us was given a copy of Grayden’s blessing. (See resources page)