Greetings from the Rector

Happy New Year to all of you! Writing for the January edition of the magazine two weeks before Christmas is always a challenging task. I am still with John the Baptist calling people to prepare for ‘the One who is to come’, or with the Angel Gabriel calling Mary to be the Mother of Jesus Christ while you will already have celebrated the birth of the One who came to redeem the world. Maybe by the time you are reading this you will have begun to pack away the trimmings of Christmas, the tree, the decorations, the Christmas cards, all that reminds us of this great celebration. But our story does not end there for Epiphany, celebrated on January 6th when we welcome the wise men to the stable, is just round the corner.
We all know the frustration of losing something. Maybe it is one’s glasses, frequently found on the head, or car keys which we know we put on the hook as we usually do, except that this time we didn’t. Or maybe it is the passport we need when we are just about to set off for the airport. There is a compulsion about searching that drives us on until we find what we are looking for.
The Magi, also known as the three kings or the wise men, were also searching. We sing about them, we build a picture of the environment from which they came, we even give them names so that we can identify with them even though their only appearance in Matthew’s Gospel gives no indication of number nor name. Such details become irrelevant when we enquire of the reason for their long journey all the way from ‘the East’ to Bethlehem. They were searching, not for something they had lost but something that was yet to be found. Such was their inner compulsion to find the object of their searching that they left the relative security of their own land and livelihood and travelled into the unknown. There would have been hardships on their journey and challenges to overcome, not least of which was the political scheming of King Herod who tried to use them to his own advantage. Guided by the star, their search came to an end, as Matthew’s gospel puts it “over the place where the child was”. Until this moment, they hadn’t known what they were looking for but when they saw the baby, they knew they had found the object of their long search. According to Matthew ‘they were overwhelmed with joy’ as they knelt down and offered their gifts.
We may not find ourselves travelling across challenging terrain with only a few companions and camels for company, but we live in a world where peoples’ compulsion to search for something they sense is missing affects all societies. I was privileged to join Year 6 pupils and their teacher at Charing Primary School for the visit of Domenica Pecoraro, Kent Refugee Projects Officer. Through a series of questions, Domenica helped the children to understand what makes people leave their own country, hoping to find a place of refuge in another place. Amongst other things, they are searching for safety, stability and provision. As I write, we are trapped in the political chaos of the Brexit negotiations. At the heart of the dialogue is a searching for what some may describe as a better world. With such polarity of opinion, it is hard to see where the solution may be found. Have we perhaps lost sight of the star?
Jesus came into a searching world in order to look for the lost, even when they didn’t know that it was Him they were looking for. So this year, wherever we find ourselves on our journey of faith, let us keep searching for the One who came to bring light and life and when we have found Him let us share our discovery with all we meet.
Wishing you all peace and joy in 2019
Sheila