One of my favourite books of all time is by an American author, Henry van Dyke, who was writing around the turn of the 19th to the 20th centuries. It’s a short book, called The Other Wise Man, which you could easily read in one sitting. It tells the tale of a fourth and unknown wise man who sets out along with his three colleagues, but they get separated and he gets lost along the way to Bethlehem.

The fourth wise man spends a lifetime searching for the Christ child, arriving eventually in Jerusalem 33 years later where he finally finds Jesus hanging on the cross. It’s a profound and poignant tale about the significance of faith as a journey and it’s a vivid reminder that the stories we hear around Christmas and Epiphany are inextricably bound up with the stories of Lent and beyond, to Holy Week and Easter.

As we begin another year with all the uncertainty that continues raging around us, and with continued worries about the cost of living and the changing nature of the church, it’s perhaps worth remembering that the same Christ child who drew kings and magi to his crib is the one who invites us to follow him still today. We have no idea where the journey may take us, possibly to the foot of the cross. But regardless of the destination, the way we travel shapes and forms us. Along the way, we catch glimpses of God’s presence in smaller and larger ways, and we are held by the everlasting arms of the one who goes before us.

May God bless you during 2023 and may you know the love of God which surrounds and strengthens us each step of the way.

The Right Reverend Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, Bishop of Chelmsford