I have close friends who head for Northern Spain at the beginning of the New Year for a few weeks. This has nothing to do with escaping the ravages of winter in the UK, but everything to do with enjoying the company of good friends that they have known for many years. 'But why not go when the weather can be kinder in Spain?' you might rightfully ask - and the ready answer is that they have fallen in love with 'King's Day'.
Traditionally Christmas Day is celebrated quietly within the family home, but once they get to 6th January the emphasis is on the creation of huge, spectacular parades in every city, town or village of the country, no matter how big or small, where sweets and presents are given to all! It's called LOS TRES REYES MAGOS (the Three Wise Men). I understand that thousands of people will crowd into the main roads in order to glimpse the re-enactment of the arrival of the Three Kings into their midst, and the whole thing is described as a wonderful spectacle and experience. Although they recall the gifts that were offered to this Child, Jesus, these days the Kings are more prone to bringing candies and more practical gifts as a special blessing for mostly children.
This occasion to which the Spanish gives such prominence stems from the Gospel account where the Wise travel from the East to worship the child that was born to be King and to offer their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. (refer Matthew 2: 1 - 12). They had been made aware of the significance to the world through their interpretation of the stars (which is why one tradition has it they were astrologers). Amazingly, they set out on this journey of discovery, not knowing where it may lead them, simply driven by this fervent belief in a message that creation had offered up, and following a star until it led them to the fulfilment of their hopes and expectations.
This is a wonderful example of faith in action to encourage us as we venture into our New Year. For the Wise showed determination and courage to continue in their journey, despite the ridicule of others, the difficulties experienced on the way, the mistakes in relying on their own judgement not that of God's, the dangers faced where secular powers sought to take advantage of their knowledge and searching for their own end, and the fact that they might have doubted initially on discovering that this 'child born to be King' (Matthew 2: 2) was not born in a palace but in a stable. Being wise enabled them to see beyond the values of this world, and see God's presence in the unexpected, Despite their status, knowledge and wealth, they demonstrated great humility in the ability to kneel in wonder, joy and excitement at the sight of this new-born child (whom the scriptures describe as 'Emmanuel - God with us' [refer Isaiah 7: 14 and Matthew 1: 23])
The period of Epiphany (a moment of sudden and great revelation) is a time to remind us that we too are called on a journey of discovery until we reach the fulfilment of our hopes and dreams if we have the courage to persevere in our seeking of the One who has come as a gift of love from the Heavenly Father, who guides us along our way, bringing us to the point where we too can kneel in wonder and adoration. After all, it is the wise who continue to seek after the One who has come to reveal the depths of God's love for humankind, and open up the way to Eternal Life.
May God's richest Blessings be bestowed upon you and yours as you venture into the New.