The Parish Church of St John-at-Hampstead
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Holy Communion      6th January 2019
Presents for Epiphany - the Giver and the Gift
Jeremy Fletcher

What was your best present? And what was the best present you gave? 

Presents are about the person they are given to…and about what the person who gives them thinks about them. They tell a story. We have one such present giving story today. 

I did some in depth research on Hampstead High Street yesterday to see if the magi’s gifts were still available. 

Gold is easy…but you can get the other two as well. In fact they are right on trend in the beauty and fragrance sector.  

Listen to this about Frankincense

Distilled from the precious, honey-coloured resin of the Boswellia tree, aromatic “Frankincense oil is known for its grounding, reviving and soothing properties, making it a brilliant pre-Christmas stress buster and mood enhancer (perfect for when you’ve got the entire family descending). As a potent anti-inflammatory and skin-nourishing ingredient, it’s also an excellent anti-ageing essential and so much more than just a spicy, oh-so-seasonal scent right now.”

You can get it at Aesop and Space NK. 

And Mrryh is equally valued:

Restore normal skin’s natural beauty and radiance with Votary Neroli and Myrrh Facial Oil, a dazzling blend of essential oils that work to repair, enrich and brighten tired and unruly complexions.

This heavenly fragranced facial oil is perfect for skin that’s prone to acting out, and is designed to tackle excess oil, dry patches, dullness and uneven skin tone. 

That’s Space NK too. 

Now I don’t think that the magi brought Jesus frankincense and myrrh because of his "uneven skin tone", or because he needed a "pre Christmas stress buster", but there are clues there.

All three gifts were and are expensive (my research did not extend to buying anything at Space NK…). The magi showed their commitment to Jesus by bringing costly, even sacrificial gifts. And the gifts showed who they thought Jesus was: all were about kingly rule, and about offering to God. 

Gold was about riches and a crown…you can get them on Hampstead High Street too if you buy a Galette Des Rois at Paul…

Frankincense was then, and now, a room fragrance as well as a perfume and skin treatment. It made people smell expensive and feel good…and came to be used in the temple to signify the presence of God. 

Myrrh was an agent of healing as well as an expensive fragrance. Kings were anointed with its oil. Wounds were treated with it. The bodies of the dead were covered in it – it’s what the women would have brought when they went to the tomb.

The gifts tell their story: Value. King. God. The one who would die…and then…

We are the magi today. We come before Jesus. In the words of the carol, what can I give him? 

Like the best present, it will depend on what we think of the person we are giving the present to…Who do we think Jesus is? recognise him as fully God, fully human, our friend, our King, the one who lived and died for us, and lives that we might not die eternally…at the beginning of this new year, can you commit to giving God your best? 

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