Par avion

One of the most popular gifts this Christmas was the drone, a small radio controlled aircraft which also has the ability of recording airborne images. After Santa kindly delivered three drones to our house, a good deal of time was invested in misreading the instructions and trying to make them fly. Then, to our horror, we found out that flying is one thing but landing is totally another. Practice makes perfect and we won’t be attempting any flights from the back garden – the church roof is mighty large and the guttering tends to catch all stray aircraft. However, with more skill and dexterity we could use the drones to discover damaged all loose tiles without having to hire a cherry picker!

Deliveries to your home by air, the claim of the retailer Amazon

The e–retailer Amazon are planning to put drones to better use in the very near future. Amazon Prime Air boasts that it will be able to deliver packages of 5 lbs or less to your home (drive or garden) in a matter of minutes after being ordered. Drones will be programmed to use GPS technology and fly totally unmanned to their destination. Amazon argue that this method of purchasing goods and their transportation is greener and safer than using the conventional methods of road and rail. The company claims that Royal Mail cannot cope with the demand of Amazon orders made online.

More Christmas deliveries – from drones to Disney DVDs to desktop computers – have been arriving at our front doors in the last few years. The struggle of shopping in a vast store, competing with other consumers, might well become a thing of the past. But the giving of gifts originated on that first Epiphany, the visitation of the Magi to Jesus. Three gifts were detailed (although there were not necessarily three wise men delivering them). The chosen method of transportation for this delivery was camel; the couriers system of navigation was a primitive form of GPS, an eastern astronomical method of planetary positioning known as reading the stars! The Magi’s epiphany was the discovery of God in the form of an infant. Their hand-delivered gifts were prophetic symbols of the messianic age. The gifts were carefully chosen, tailor-made, befitting God made man: gold (royalty), frankincense (holiness) and myrrh (sacrifice).

An ancient form of gift delivery

Matthew recorded the delivery of these gifts and in particular where the Magi pay homage to Jesus. Here we understand the nature of their epiphany, the recognition of the King of kings. At the heart of the Christmas story is the personal act of sacrifice and praise. The gifts were given and received by hand out of a sense of wonder and gratitude. Enough said about about taking the ‘personal’ out of our giving today. I won’t drone on!


Author: Gavin Knight

The Revd Gavin Knight has been the Vicar of St Michael & All Angels, Summertown in the Oxford Diocese since September 2011. After serving his title at St Alphege, Solihull, Gavin became parish priest of St Andrew's Fulham Fields in London. He moved to Wales in 2005 becoming Chaplain to Monmouth School. He is married to Jo, a clinical psychologist, and they have three sons.