Not the finished product, but its a start.
Some of you – if you have a good memory – will remember this word – Ubuntu.
It can in part of a story I told about some children in Africa which I told last July, There was an anthropologist who was living and studying the tribe, their customs and behaviours, and as he was leaving he piled up all the sweets and goodies he had left and told the children they would have a race and the winner would get all the goodies, However, instead of all the children racing to the sweets, they all joined hands and went together, and shared out the goodies at the end.
The anthropologist was surprised and asked them why they all went together, when one could have had it all for themselves?
A girl replied, Ubuntu – how can one of us be happy when they others are sad?
How can one of us be happy when the others are sad?
Ubuntu us a term for that humanness, that caring, sharing part of our nature who wants to be in harmony with each other.
And it is a term I’ve been thinking about particularly over these first few days of the New Year.
We all start the New Year with the best intentions. Many make resolutions in the hope that we can make this new year better, fitter, richer, happier. Bit this year feels different from other New Years.
Living and being in such close communities, I don’t think a single one of us can feel unaffected by some of the things that have happened in this area of over these few short days.
Whether it is the loss of young life in a car crash, the effects of the storms what have made so many flee their homes and causing such destruction, the loss of the life washed up on Black Rock Sands, or those others who have lost jobs, and homes and businesses over this season. In community – when one is affected, we are all affected.
Ubuntu – how can one be happy when the others are sad?
For so many in our community, old and young alike – it will be hard for them to see the road ahead with any clarity or where to go next.
Where do you turn to when you feel lost and without direction?
The Wise Men turned to the scriptures, for their answer, and the stars for their direction.
We don’t know much about the Magi, thse wise men, the three kings from the orient.
There may have been more than three, we don’t know exactly where exactly where they came from, or when exactly they visited Jesus.
But, in our case, I don’t think the details are important.
What is important is that they made that journey.
They saw the signs, left their familiar surroundings, to a place of uncertainty, and discovered something new and wonderful.
What they found literally changed the direction of their lives.
St Matthew puts it: “They returned home by another way”, The old way, the familiar path no longer worked, they needed a different path, a different way of going forward.
Epiphany is about discovering.
The star the sign they followed to find what they were searching for. The source of salvation.
Our readings are full of references to light.
“Rise up in splendour, Jerusalem” Isaiah cries out, “Your light has come. The glory of the Lord shines upon you.”
There, in those verses, is a sense of being saved, of relief, of deliverance and of hope.
The excitement of the magi comes through in our scriptures, and also I think a sense of relief. We are told: “They were overjoyed at seeing the star”.
For us today, this story is about making the journey – changing direction, going into the unknown, and finding something, or someone to rejoice about.
It’s about finding those signs which will lead us to what we are looking for. Finding them, trusting them and following them.
It’s about what happens to those who are searching and those who encounter Christ.
And whether we realise it or not, its about a kind of conversion.
– It’s about finding another way of walking the journey of life. A way that has been transformed by a sign, by a star, by a light, by Jesus Himself.
Next week we celebrate the baptism of Christ, and swiftly following that we will slip into Ordinary time, the season of Christmas a memory.
But before it does we are asked to do something first.
The season ask us to begin a journey.
To find a sign.
To follow the light.
And then like the wise men, to bring what we have, our gifts and share them – with God and with each other.
As we share in what our community is going through, we can bring our gifts and the spirit of Ubuntu with us.
It may be as simple as a smile to someone you meet in Fox’s or London House.
It might be a tissue – or a panad.
It might be a prayer and a lit candle.
It might be a helping hand with cleaning or repairs –
We are all called to journey personally with God and as a community, and to do that there are certain things we must do.
If you have not made a resolution yet, it is not too late, especially when there is so much need within our community. Use your gift, follow the sign and do what you can for yourself, or community, and the Lord who can to bring us light and salvation.