Epiphany: Week 6 Day 38

Day 38

January 6

Matthew 2:1-12

 

Matthew’s account of the Magi’s journey to Jerusalem, to the “King of the Jews’” birthplace in Bethlehem and beyond, brings a sudden halt to our own anticipation and wandering through the Advent season.  The “epiphany” of Jesus is what these nomadic Wise Men have come to witness.  And while their expedition’s discovery is a glimpse of hope in an ongoing Drama of chaos and brokenness for today’s Christian, it was not always so.  Scripture says that those who had power to lose by the prediction, discovery and recognition of a “new king,” were frightened or disturbed (2:3).  Matthew’s word choice here, also used later on to describe the disciples’ emotion when they saw Jesus walking on water (14:26), helps us understand the radical repercussions of Jesus’ birth.  It is worthy of awe and fear; filled with uncertainty, insecurity, and desperation no matter how well we know and believe in the baby in the manger. 

So, let it change you.

Let it transform you. 

The three Magi had to take a different road home, because it was in fact the Messiah they found under that star.  May the gift of Christ leave you rather transformed this Advent, so that you must journey from here on out, by way of a different road…

 

                                                                                                            Lyndsay Cogdill

Love: Week 4 Day 23

December 22
Luke 1:46b-55

My brother was born in December when I was four years old. I was born in December too, and his birthday is only eight days before mine. I remember us getting ready for him to be born, so we bought a lot of new stuff to put in our room. I even helped pick out his name.

On the day my baby brother was born, I felt a little nervous and excited at the same time. I was excited that I got a baby brother, but I was nervous that I would drop him when I was holding him. I bet Mary felt the same way: excited and nervous. Mary was excited she was going to be Jesus’ mother and nervous when she got the news. Mary had faith she could care for Jesus and protect him.

Logan Hawley

Epiphany: Week 6 Day 37

Day 37

January 5

Luke 2:21-24

Today’s Scripture passage has it all – circumcision, ritual purification, and animal sacrifices; all the things I associate with Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany!    But even though these may not be my favorite verses, there are at least two things I appreciate about them.     First, as a parent, I understand Mary and Joseph doing all the things their faith told them they should do after the birth of their son.  They put his name on the cradle roll, had Pastor Sarah hold him at the front of the sanctuary, and said, “We will, God being our helper” in answer to every question.   I’m sure as he got older they took him to Sunday school and youth group.   Just like us, they wanted their son to understand their faith, to understand and appreciate the nature of God.  And of course he did – better than any person who has ever lived.  But our children don’t grow up to be Jesus.  The reality is that our children are not perfect.  They have problems.  They make poor choices.  They make us proud but they also sometimes disappoint us.

 

This brings us to the second thing I appreciate about this passage.  Mary and Joseph named their son the name given him by the angel before he was conceived.  I believe that God also knows and loves and perhaps even names our children before they are conceived as well.  So even though we are not perfect parents and we don’t have perfect children, God, who is perfect, is always there loving them even more than we love them. 

 

Gracious God, today we pray for parents and children. 

 

                                                                                                            Bill Caaughran

Epiphany: Week 6 Day 36

Week 6: Epiphany

Day 36

January 4

Isaiah 60:1-6

 

Just look around you.   Heads down, empty faces, frantic paces, and searching looks.  Whether it be due to hyper-activity, loneliness, preoccupation, shame, or worry, we are surrounded by people who may be (or, at least feel like) they are walking in darkness (Isaiah calls it a “thick darkness”).  To these people and to each of us, the words of Isaiah offer beautiful expressions of hope and light. 

 

The liturgical season we know as Epiphany commences this Tuesday, January 6.  It’s a Christian festival commemorating the coming of the Magi to see the baby Jesus.  It’s a season of great hope, wonder, and enlightenment.

 

As we envision these words from Isaiah, may we lift up our eyes and see the glory of the Lord rise upon us.  By the power of Christ within us, may we arise, shine, and lift up our heads. . . and, in doing so, may we offer extraordinary compassion to those friends, coworkers, and neighbors who are distracted, worn out, desperate, empty, and perhaps, walking in darkness.  For you see, we are all invited to be as the Magi — seekers of the eternal light of Jesus Christ.

 

                                                                                                            Tim Mann

Birth & Celebration: Week 5 Day 34

Day 34

January 2

Ecclesiastes 3:1-13

Moving forward in this season of Advent, we celebrate the New Year after the birth of Jesus.

In our scripture, we are given a time for everything. A song we can take with us everyday. It’s a song of survival as “time marches on”… As we look at our life, it can be limited and beyond our control. I feel thru patience, faithfulness and faith we can strive for daily control and a greater perspective of what God has in store for each person.

Live each day in celebration and with a song in your heart. As the scripture reminds us (vs 12) nothing better for people than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they can.

Dear God, as we begin this new year, help us to celebrate you. Give us a great desire to continue helping others. Bless our congregation, our church staff , our ministries and our community. In your Holy Name we pray, Amen.

Pam Baggett

Birth & Celebration: Week 5 Day 33

Day 33

January 1

Luke 2:15-20

“Were you there?” “Did you see that?” “It was the greatest ever!”. How often have we heard those phrases, or said them ourselves? When the shepherds came too meet God’s own Son did they comprehend the magnitude of what they were experiencing? They were excited enough to go and tell others. They knew it was a moment worthy of praise. The shepherds came, saw what they had been told they would find, and amazed others by sharing their experience. They certainly achieved some notoriety for having been there. Did it change them? The scriptures do not say. What they do say is, “but Mary” – did you catch that, “but Mary”? Mary “treasured” and “pondered” in her heart. She was changed. She seemingly understood her moment in time and history. Do we? How often in our own lives are we faced with moments of greatness that we deem ordinary because we are too busy to “treasure and ponder” things in our heart? The homeless man we break bread with – a glimpse of Jesus as he ate with beggars; our child crawling into our laps, or our much too busy grown child sitting with us for just a moment – a glimpse of God’s love for us; being surrounded by friends who we can always count on – a reminder that we are not forsaken. It is in the little moments that life happens. Be present, be in the moment and much like Mary, upon the birth of her son, treasure and ponder all life’s moments as you start the New Year.

Mary Elizabeth Team

Birth & Celebration: Week 5 Day 32

Day 32

December 31

John 8:12-19

Do you think Jesus ever developed the Imposter Syndrome? You know – the term psychologists use to describe when people can’t quite believe that they deserve their successes, even when they’ve worked very hard for them? Despite his inauspicious beginning (i.e., feed box, cows, the smell of cows), Jesus began training for his Son-of-God role immediately and with plenty of divine support. By the time he had to defend himself to the Pharisees in the temple courts, he’d had a lot of time to prepare. But, “The Messiah?” “The Light of the World?” How do you prepare to be these things? And, even if you believed this to be your destiny, how could you have any faith that you would succeed? I think the answer lies in the “Because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me” part. We are not alone in our successes, or our failures. What a relief it is that we do not have to meet a human standard of success to be who God wants us to be.

Kristen Berthiaume

Birth & Celebration: Week 5 Day 31

Day 31

December 30

2 Peter 3:8-13

This is the season of Hope and Hope is what keeps us going.  We hope for a disease-free tomorrow, for wars to cease, and for the eradication of poverty.  Those are great and expansive occurrences for the world’s future generations. 

But what about today?  II Peter tells us that Christians have something far more profound and immediate on which to fix our hope: God is not willing for any one of us to perish – not one of us.

  

Perish – what an extraordinarily scary word.  We are bombarded with scary stuff in the news daily.  We feel powerless to address the evil around us, and fear that perishing is unavoidable. 

II Peter tells us that God is long suffering, powerful, and keeps promises.  And, most wonderfully, The Creator does not want us to perish. Those are characteristics that triumph over “scary” any day.

God will banish scary from our lives if we only trust in this promise.    Our Creator has provided all we need to live above fear.   

Gail Hill

Birth & Celebration: Week 5 Day 30

Day 30

December 29

Isaiah 49:5-15

Is it too small a thing that you should be My servant….I will also make you a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth. (Isaiah 49:6)

This “servant song” passage proposes that Israel – and then Jesus – are God’s servants who bring light into the world for the Gentiles.  As followers of the newborn Christ, we are called to be His Light to an often dark and lonely world.  I confess that amidst the business of life, I fear my light to be dim or flickering at best.  And if I’m being honest, I too often serve myself rather than others.  I question whether or not I can make a difference.  It is in those times that I like to think of people who inspire and motivate me with their small, faithful, but steady service to others.

One of those servants for me is the fictional character Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird.  I know what you’re thinking.  SMALL service?  Isn’t he the epitome of a hero – the bold, courageous leader who stands up to the worst of the Jim Crow South?  Well certainly.  But if you focus only on this core, dramatic story at the expense of the small, day-to-day acts of integrity from Atticus Finch, you miss the constant light he provides to his community.  He allows poor people who cannot pay to barter for his services.  He invites a poor boy into his home for a meal and treats him with the upmost dignity.  He overlooks the slights of his neighbors and repays hostilities with patience and kindness. He does the jobs that others around him will not do.  He is empathetic and humble.  And he listens to and teaches children.  Atticus Finch loses the big case in the novel.  Yet, like us, he is only called to be faithful, to serve others in love, to see the best in people, and to be a source of light to his neighbors.  It is this illumination – not the glaring, spotlighted examples – that shines God’s love into the dark places.

Is it too small a thing for us to be God’s servant?  Or is our one small light just what someone in our path needs to see Jesus?

Patrick Chappell