By Emily Smith

Happy New Year!

Our January theme at Leeds Sanctuary is “Wonder” – a theme which we hope will capture some Epiphany spirit; offering hope and joy in a month which for many often presents challenges.

For many, Epiphany or Twelfth Night signals the end of the Christmas period; the time when the decorations go away and ‘normality’ returns. In the church calendar however, Epiphany marks both an end and a beginning. It marks the end of the Christmas season but the beginning of a season of exploration and wonder, a time to discover more of who the Christ child, Jesus, is and to wonder, afresh, what he means for our lives.

In the Epiphany story, the Magi journey to meet Jesus in Jerusalem. Using their knowledge of astrology and following the customs of the time they find themselves in the home of a ruler but the ruler had not welcomed a newborn king as they were expecting. They felt they were travelling in the right direction but found themselves in a “not-quite-Jesus” place.

I wonder how often we’ve found ourselves in a “not-quite-Jesus” place like the Magi? Starting off on the right path but finding ourselves leaning more on our own understanding and expectations of who Jesus is, rather than discovering more of Jesus and continuing the journey with him?

As I read Matthew 2, it’s clear to me that while my own experience and knowledge will get me so far, if I really want to meet Jesus, Scripture is crucial; in keeping with our theme, Scripture is the north star. Likewise, knowing Scripture without opportunity to practice it won’t get me there either.

We will all know people who are searching for something; some will be exploring Christianity, others will be exploring other spiritualities, and some won’t know where to start. As Christians we are called to provide spaces of encounter; places where people can come to ask their questions, receive hospitality and perhaps stay a while. As we gently help them to explore their questions we will hopefully have the opportunity to point them towards Jesus. We will also have our own experiences of times distant from God but let’s learn from the Magi and keep seeking.

At Leeds Sanctuary all our communities begin with encounter and we hope are places where people can explore their questions and through these encounters and explorations flourish together with God.