Wise Men Seeking Jesus (A Hymn for Epiphany)

The Rev. James T. East

Today is Epiphany, the day when the church has traditionally celebrated the visit of the wise men (or magi) as told in Matthew 2:1-12. In celebration of that day, I offer up a hymn written by one of my predecessors at Mellor Methodist Church, The Rev. James T. East, who is buried in the grave yard of our church. It is in the Methodist Hymnal, Hymns & Psalms (#128). There are still a few people in my church who can remember him or knew his family, and at our Carol Service at Wilpshire Methodist Church this year, one of them related the story of how Rev. East came to write this hymn.

Rev. East was a man fascinated by the Holy Land and it was his life-long dream to travel there. Having little money, he saved all he could throughout his life and after retiring to Blackburn he finally had enough money to make the trip. He went to the travel agents to make the arrangements, but on return received a message from a friend. His friend was ill and needed an operation or he would die. The friend didn’t have the money (this was in the days before the NHS). Rev. East cancelled his travel plans to Israel and gave the money to save his friend.

Out of that experience, Rev. East wrote this hymn to remind us that God is every where and not just in the Holy Land. Where we are; where we meet God becomes our Holy Land. Where we are called to follow, that is our Bethany. So, on this day we celebrate God’s revelation of himself in Jesus to all the world where we might be or where we may travel as the magi did, here are the words to “Wise Men Seeking Jesus”, by the Rev. James T. East:

Wise men seeking Jesus travelled from afar,
Guided in their journey by a wond’rous star.

But if we desire Him, He is close at hand,
For our native country is our holy land.

Prayerful souls may find Him by our quiet lakes,
Meet Him on our hillsides when the dawning breaks

In our fertile wheat fields where the sheaves are bound,
In our busy markets Jesus may be found.

Fishermen talk with Him by the deep blue sea
As the first disciples did by Galilee.

Every peaceful village in our land might be
Made by Jesus’ Presence like sweet Bethany.

He is more near us if we love Him well,
For He seeketh ever in our hearts to dwell.

Advent Sermons?

One of the websites I peruse is ChristianityToday.com, which began with their flagship magazine, Christianity Today.  They are a conservative evangelical group, but very thoughtful and while on the whole likely still lean toward a political conservatism, allow a broad set of ideas to be  discussed.

They have even become more liturgical in recent years.  When I first encountered them some 15 years ago, Advent and Lent were barely mentioned (if at all).  They now have a whole section (albeit a small one) devoted to Advent.  The articles are a good primer for the evangelical who grew up in a tradition where Advent smacked of evil traditionalism.  (As a Methodist, I grew up with Advent, though its meaning didn’t become clear until later.  Most of South Carolina takes on a Baptist feel, though – I think it’s the state’s established religion.  I dated a Southern Baptist at University and going to church with her once in December, and not knowing any better, I asked her where their Advent Wreath was.  I think she thought I was making it up to make fun of her.)

Anyway, I think the evangelical wing may still have a way to come, though.  I saw a link labelled ‘Advent Sermons‘, and as I am always looking for inspiration, I clicked on it.  All the sermons have a Christmas theme.  I think a point got missed somewhere.  Still, lots of other good resources for Advent on the original link.

So, maybe Wyman Richardson at Walking Together can give us the ‘State of Advent’ in the Southern Baptist Churches and in the meantime, does anybody have a link for any Advent sermons that don’t jump to Christmas?

Meet Stephen Poxon, President of Conference

My chair of district (North Lancashire) assumed the office of President of Conference yesterday.  He will spend the next year travelling around the connexion and will embody the Methodist Church as our chief representative.  I have admired Stephen for the past 4 years as he has not been a ‘hands off’ chair at all.  He has been the leader of our ‘Under 5s’ group (for those in their first five years of ministry, not 0-5 year olds), came to see my parents when they have come over, and prayed with April and me when we miscarried three years ago.  I can think of no better person to represent the Methodist Church, but we will miss him in the district over the next year.

Hopefully, he will be writing on the blog for the president and vice-president, and anyone will be able to keep up with what he’s doing.  Also, here is some information about him: