The Minister’s Pastoral Letter

This article is by Revd. Dr. Jack McKelvey a member of our congregation :-


Soon it will be 2018.  The 6th of January is Epiphany  when we think how the Jesus reveals God to us.

Many of the Christmas cards we received depicted the scene.   The  Epiphany has inspired the worship of the church through the ages.  In works of art, liturgy, music and poetry, the Epiphany has been set forth in matchless beauty. The wise men, for their part, have shown us in what spirit we are to undertake our own personal pilgrimage.

Think of what the journey of the Magi to Jesus has to say to us as we set out on our journey.

First there is faith.  2018 is a very uncertain, quite apart from Brexit. We have no idea what the future holds, health-wise or otherwise.  We recall the words spoken in 1939 by King George VI as war was imminent. “I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, give me  a light that I may tread safely ínto the unknown.  He said to me, Go into the darkness and put your  hand into the hand of God.  That will be better for you than light and safer than a known way.”  Faith is what we need.  Faith to give us courage for the days ahead.

Courage, yes.  Courage when the future is so unknown. Courage to try new things, not to be afraid to make mistakes. Courage to get up when we are down and to keep trying.Close to courage is perseverance. The Magi had a long, hard slog, but they kept at it. T.S.Eliot in his Journey of the Magi describes the difficulties they encountered – the awful weather, the fractious camels, the unfriendly people they met en route.  It was perseverance that kept them going.   It is perseverance that keeps us going.  I think of a neighbour of ours: Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw who lived near our church.  She struggled with deafness for years.  Study of maths was a challenge. There was one occasion when she had great difficulty solving a math conundrum.  She persevered for some considerable  time until late one night she solved the problem.  She went outside (in her dressing gown) to get a breather.  She was so thrilled that she exclaimed “Eureka! Eureka! Eureka!  (I’ve found it!). This story was told to me by Joanne Beressi.

Next think about  learning from our mistakes.  The wise men could easily have wrecked the whole enterprise by the mistake they made ín seeking help from King Herod.   He was the last person to ask!  This suspicious and neurotic tyrant would never tolerate rivals. The Magi learnt from their mistake and so should we. No doubt we shall make mistakes this year.  An article ín the Guardían argued that we do our children a great disservice by making them afraid to fail. We very correctly praise our children when they do well, but  often are hard on them when they fail. We  should help they discover where they go wrong and learn from the experience.

Failures and mistakes are an inevitable  part of life.. We should not be afraid of making mistakes.  Many successful individuals like the great Albert Einstein have acknowledged that they have learned more from their mistakes and failures than often from their successes

Now finally the most important thing about the Magi:  offering worship to Christ.  We tend to be taken up with the gold, the frankincense and the myrrh. The gospel writer puts first things first and so of course should we.

Let  us pray that Epiphany 2018 will speak to us.

Child of Bethlehem, God the Father revealing.

We adore you.

Jack McKelvey