Every part of the Christingle represents something important. The orange is the world, or God’s creation.
The Magi travelled a great distance to reach the Holy Land and they first go to Jerusalem. The context in St Matthew’s account is the outright rejection of Jesus by Herod. Despite the failings of Herod, others also recognised his importance. He was for all people and not just a few.
All people implies different cultures, ethnicity and experiences.
The Magi also brought with them gifts. An estimated £143 million of unwanted gifts are returned to the shops after Christmas, the busiest day for exchange is the day after Boxing Day. There will be jumpers that don’t fit or you or gifts that you receive which you already have.
The Epiphany story tells us that the Magi brought with them gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. These are not the most useful gifts for a baby. In fact the best selling baby gifts according to motherandbaby.co.uk are as follows:
Yet the Magi were seeing things from the long term perspective: the gifts were symbols of who Jesus was. Gifts that said something about what his life would represent.
Gold was a gift for a king: it was most likely the most precious thing that they had and it was a mark of their respect. Gold does not tarnish or rust and it’s expensive. When presented as a gift it shows how much value is given to the person it is given too. For St Matthew it was practical as very soon Mary, Joseph and Jesus will flee to Egypt and they would have needed money to live.
Frankincense is a mineral that was used in prayer: as the sweet-smelling smoke rose to the ceiling you can imagine your prayers going to God. It was a gift that you would give to a holy person or a priest and said something about Jesus and the temple in Jerusalem.
Myrrh is quite smelly and bitter and it was used to help people who were ill or suffering. It can be used in different ways (baths/antiseptic). It is possibly one of the spices that Mary brought to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus after he had been crucified. It is a gift for someone who would suffer but also bring healing.
So all the gifts set the scene for who Jesus was and what his life would mean.
When I was young one of the things that really made me think about Jesus was his concern for those who were struggling or “the least of these.” In some ways the gifts given long ago still have a relevance.
For many years St Mary’s has supported the Children’s Society and through the Christingle for 50 years the Society has raised funds to help those who most need it.
We won’t be giving gold today in the collection: but we maintain that spirit of generosity to show the value that we place on vulnerable children being supported and given the chance of safety and happiness.
Frankincense represents prayer and we will be using the special prayer for the work of the Children’s Society.
Myrrh reminds us of suffering and healing. There are things that can be done to support children and families in need and we have the collection for Syria and also the DENS foodbank
The Christingle 50 Prayer
God of all,
We give thanks for 50 years of Christingle,
and all that Christingles symbolise:
coming together; light in the darkness; and a future hope.
May the orange at the centre remind us
of the amazing earth you have created.
May the red ribbon remind us of your love,
wrapped around the earth.
May the cocktail sticks remind us
of the part we play in your world.
May the brightly lit candle remind us of the
light you shine into dark places.
We give thanks for the impact Christingle services
have on the lives of vulnerable children,
and we ask that you help us to work together in this 50th year,
to ensure that no child feels alone.