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Viewpoint from Don McAllister 18th January 2013

Don McAllister
Lay Leader
Old Meeting Unitarian Church

I wonder how many people gave a sigh of relief, once the Christmas festivities were over.  Gone now (until much later in the year) are the worries over what to buy for whom, how much food and drink to get in, who to invite to join in the partying etc., and then the anxiety over how it is all to be paid for.  But these are just a few of the mundane aspects of our celebrations, growing each year as the spiritual dimension is lost.
It was a wonderful time for me, albeit very quietly spent, beginning from the start of Advent; a time to review my spiritual status and work towards its readiness to celebrate the coming of God’s great gift to the world.  For many, the season ended on twelfth night, when traditionally, all the trimmings and paraphernalia of Christmas is taken down and put back in the loft.  How many though, like me, maintained their sense of celebration long enough to include the Feast of the Epiphany, when the Divinity within the new-born Christ-child is recognised and honoured by the pagan Magi?  For the spiritually minded, this is a great time and given precedence over Christmas day itself by some countries.
We have an opportunity here, of looking not only at what we have received from God, but of  what gifts we may offer in return.  I dare say that we’d find it difficult to match those gifts of the Magi, given the price of gold; and where do you find frankincense and myrrh anyway.  We need not worry about giving such gifts as these, for they are not asked of us anyway.  What we are asked for however, is to return his love. And the opportunities for doing this are boundless, if not necessarily easy or comfortable to do.  To begin, we might take stock of all we think, Dove rightsay and do, ensuring that none of them cause him offence through contravening his laws, concisely summed up by Jesus in Matthew  22:37-40.  Nor in speaking of ‘neighbour’ is Jesus simply referring to the person who lives next door to us, or even close by, but to the wider global community.
Within this global community of ours, there is a multitude of suffering: famine, sickness (mental as well as physical), homelessness, loneliness,  persecution, violence (be it petty thuggery or full-scale war); the list goes on.  And let us not forget our fellow-creatures who also belong to God and share this planet with us.  We have a duty of care to see that suffering and wrongs are relieved where possible.  We may not be able to do this personally, but we do have the ability to help those who do have the resources to make a difference.  Nor let us not forget the power and efficacy of prayer.
It is nice to call ourselves ‘Christian’, but as Jesus said, it means more than simply calling out ‘Lord, Lord’ - it means doing the will of our Father in Heaven, which is to truly LOVE.