February- Letter from Revd. Simon Pitcher

Posted on by Tania Birtwistle

Dear Friends

Jesus asked the disciples of John the Baptist, “What are you looking for?” (John 1 verse 38)  Their awkward reply suggests that they were not really sure. 

I write as the season of Epiphany dawns with the story of the wise men that we find in Matthew’s Gospel Chapter 2 verses 1-12.  I wonder what they were looking for as they searched the night sky looking for signs, portents and meaning. 

Humans have always been drawn to look up, to look outward and to imagine things that are beyond our comprehension.  What are we looking for?  Why did NASA send a spacecraft the size of a grand piano to travel for 13 years at 32,000 mph to take a photo of a rock that has drifted in space undisturbed for four billion years?  The first pictures of Ultima Thule, which were published on 2nd January, caused great excitement.

Equally bewildering I heard on the radio that 80 satellites, each the size of a shoebox have been launched into space in order to give scientists the capacity to monitor the well being of every tree on the planet.  (I’m sure I heard this right!).  What are we looking for as we explore the heavens?  Professor Stephen Hawking held the view that we needed to find a new planet upon which to live because we soon will have exhausted this one.  Others point to the benefits that space travel has brought to everyday life.  Sat Nav., the mobile phone and loft insulation, for example.

The wise men in Matthew’s story were just the same as us.  They were excited by the possibilities of learning.  They wanted to understand their place in the universe and push back the boundaries of science.  Their imaginations were fired by the boundless possibilities of human capacity.  Matthew’s point is that all that they longed for in the depths of their hearts was answered by their encounter with the Christ child in Bethlehem. 

“What are you looking for?” asks Jesus.  He invited John’s uncertain disciples to spend some time with him, and in him they found all that they were looking for.  What are you looking for in 2019?