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Excerpt from “Newsletter of Woodstation United Methodist Church Issue 4 – Winter Edition, February 2019”

Happy Epiphany—Happy New Year!!!

A message from Pastor Sharon

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the rule of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem following a new and bright star. From Jerusalem, they continued following the star until it stood over the place where the child Jesus was, and they were filled with joy. They entered the house and saw the child with Mary his mother. Falling to their knees, they honored him. Then they opened their treasure chests and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Because they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back to their own country by another route.” (Matthew 1:1-12 paraphrased from the Common English Bible)

How precious it is that the annual Christian Day of Epiphany just happened to fall on the first Sunday of 2019. The term “epiphany” means “to show” or “to make known” or even “to reveal” and often used when a person realizes their faith, or when they are convinced that an event or happening was really caused by God. Such epiphany events can also be life-changing.

For those who are not familiar with the Christian calendar of celebrations and seasons, The Day of Epiphany (January 6) commemorates the visit and revelation of the Gentile (non-believers) Magi after Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem and initiates the Epiphany season. This day is the climax of the Christmas Season and the Twelve Days of Christmas (December 25th—January 5).

During the Epiphany Season (also called “Ordinary Time), the Christian Liturgical calendar explores the mission of the church in the world: the spread of the Good News of Christ to all the nations. This is a period of time for renewal, rebirth, and regeneration of our spiritual lives. As with each Christian Season, the Scripture selections each week focus on these themes.

For example, John 1:12-13, 3:3, 6-7; 1 John 3:9, 4:7, 5:1, 4, 18; 1Peter 1:23; Titus 3:5; 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Romans 5:1 (just a few of many references), are tied together by the theme of Rebirth/Regeneration. This theme of new spiritual birth is the result of our being made alive spiritually. Before salvation, we were degenerate (sinful human souls without God).

Just as our physical birth resulted in our entering the earthly realm, after regeneration/spiritual birth, we begin to see and hear andseek after divine things; we begin to live a life of faith andholiness.

Regeneration is God’s making a person spiritually alive, as a result of faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Regeneration begins the process of sanctification wherein we become the people God intends us to be (see also Romans 8:28-30) on earth and in heaven.

During the course of the Christian year, The United Methodist Church embraces the liturgical calendar. Our worship services will be marked by organized worship patterns including Christian symbols and colors specific to each Christian season and special days. So, in advance I offer the following information for your edification.

Advent – Purple, blue (love, truth) red (love); Christmastide – White and gold (purity, joy, glory); Epiphany – Green (hope, regeneration);

Lent Purple (sorrow, penitence)

Eastertide – White and gold (purity, innocence) Pentecost – Red (Holy Spirit power)

Kingdomtide – Green (growth) or Red (Holy Spirit growth)

May God continue to reveal God’s self to us all in new and amazing ways in2019.

PastorSharon

Advent Reflections

A Message from our Pastor:

“Reflecting on the Third Candle of Advent: Joy”

 

“The Lord, the king of Israel, is in your midst; you will no longer fear evil.”—Zephaniah 3:15b (CEB)

 

Who among us doesn’t fear something? Into each human life, some fears must intrude.

 

Perhaps the biggest fear we have concerns our health as our bodies and minds become more and more chronologically advanced.

 

As Caregivers, we fear for the safety and wellbeing of our children, our parents or spouses in a variety of ways.

 

For both the young and old among us, fear of the future is always lurking in the backs of our minds. Fear of going off to college next year, fear of changes happening within the lives of our children, fear of changes in our source of income, and even fear for our safety and security as we go out into the world.

 

Fear is an ever-present reality that we cannot vanquish by denying or avoiding it.

 

As we continue our Advent journey to Bethlehem, we need to admit that fear is as much a part of the Christmas story as hope, peace and joy. But to get to the Christmas Joy, we must pass through those fears, with the assurance that our fearsome and powerful God is watching and protecting us, just as He watched over His own flesh and blood, the Christ Child, as he slept in the “Little Town of Bethlehem.”

 

Some Questions for Reflection:

What fears do you have this Advent Season?

Are these fears stronger than your fear of the Lord?

In what way(s) are you contributing to the fears others have?

Is there an area of your life where you need to let go, and let God be in control?

 

The Joy of the Christ child is an invitation for us to move through our fears and grasp the Good News that God is with us.

 

Almighty God, true Hope, Peace and Joy for all the world, hear our prayers during this time of waiting. We hear your call to journey toward the light of your joy, and yet we stumble. Our journey toward your promise of Christ’s coming is filled with doubt, pain and fear. Our losses, our worries overtake us, so that we live in darkness of fear rather than moving toward your light of meaning and purpose. Create in us the thread of hope that pulls us forward to the miracle of new life. Create in us a clean spirit so that our journey is no longer weary but filled with energy of a joyous adventure! As the Christ child comes, so we, too, come back to you this day. Amen.

 

Samach!!

Pastor Sharon

(Hebrew: [saw-makh’]; rejoice, be glad)