Epiphany - Winter 2021
January 3 The Magi and the Light
Epiphany is my favorite holiday in the whole church year. Epiphany is a strange sort of word, it comes from a big Greek word – epiphaneia. That word means to manifest or to show forth
Which kind of makes sense because what does light let you do ? It lets you see
At Creation God said “let there be light,” and separated the darkness from the light and found the light “very good”
Epiphany marks the journey of the wise men who have been following the star finally find baby Jesus under it – Jesus is shown to be the savior by the light of the star
They brought gifts: Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. But they knew it was they who had received the biggest gift - they recognized the light of God come into the world in Jesus. God's light was in the world. God's light is in the world.
So light is very important. We need light to see and to grow. We see and grow because God separated the light from the darkness. We are all children of “the light”
Remember you are a beloved child of God and that your light shines brightest when it is shared.
What will we do with our light? How will we show it? How will we share it?
January 10 Presentation in the Temple
Years and years and years ago a woman who had lost her husband, a widow named Anna went to the Temple, in fact she decided to live in the Temple in Jerusalem – maybe our first homeless person – but she lived there and prayed every day to see the saviour, the messiah, the one who would come and make her life and all the people she prayed for better.
And, there was a man there too, his name was Simeon. And he came to the Temple every day to pray for the goodness of the world. Simeon believed that God would send someone so special that we all would learn to get along and love each other as we love the one we name Lord.
So, remember Mary & Joseph and their little baby Jesus?
As very faithful and good Jewish parents, Mary & Joseph took their little baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem. This was not about having him baptized – that would come later when he was grown up – but still it was important to Mary & Joseph to bring little baby Jesus to the Temple to both thank God for him, and to promise him to God.
It was called a presentation. Mary & Joseph presented their little boy to all of the priests at the Temple – they were proud of him and loved him.
They knew he had a light that would shine to all that knew him.
And when Mary & Joseph showed up with little baby Jesus, Anna and Simeon were so delighted. It was as though they recognized an old friend, they knew this baby Jesus that Mary and Joseph brought to the Temple was not just any baby but it was the one they had been praying and waiting for.
So first Anna, and then Simeon celebrated this wonderful child. Anna carried the baby all around the Temple and the neighborhood – showing anyone who would look that she had the light in her arms.
And Simeon sang. He loved the little baby Jesus so much that his heart sang. And we have his song in our prayer book, we can sing it or say it together to remember Simeon’s joy when he held little baby Jesus in his arms.
How do we shine?
How does our light shine?
January 17 Teaching in the Temple
And Mary and Joseph were very good parents to Jesus and to their other children
They were faithful. And for them being faithful meant teaching their children about God. And as good Jewish parents it also meant making the trip to Jerusalem for the Passover – every year no matter the weather, or how much money they had or didn’t have, or even if they had to walk all the miles between Nazareth and Jerusalem.
And mostly they did walk. They had donkeys to carry their belongings, and sometimes themselves – but mostly they walked.
But they were not alone. Many other people, families and single people were walking the road to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. So there was much fellowship and talking along the way.
It was a high and holy time for Jewish people.
And Mary & Joseph were good and observant Jewish parents who brought their children to Jerusalem to celebrate this feast of their salvation.
Do any of you know about the Passover? What is that all about?
It is a time when the Jewish people, Jesus’ grandfathers and grandmothers were slaves in Egypt. And they called out to God to help them. And God heard them and sent Moses to free them.
So, many hundreds of years later the Jewish people remember this night of the Pass-over and their freedom from slavery in Egypt.
And that is why they walk together to Jerusalem, to the Temple where God lives.
And unlike our understanding of God, for Mary & Joseph and their friends and family, God only lives in one place – and that is the Temple at Jerusalem.
So Mary & Joseph and many of their friends and family were on the road to Jersualem
And they were especially excited because this year Jesus was old enough to go into the Temple by himself. He was 13 and had passed out of childhood into manhood.
Jesus was now allowed to go to the Temple and hear the stories of God. He was now ready to sit with the teachers and learn about God.
When the sun began to set the whole family left the Temple to share the Passover meal with friends.
The next morning everyone set our for home. Mary and Joseph were with many friends old and new on the road home.
When evening came and it was time to camp for the night Mary and Joseph looked for Jesus. They couldn’t find him, he was not with any of their friends.
Mary and Joseph were very upset – have you ever gotten separated from your parents? How did they act? How did you feel?
Mary and Joseph barely slept that night and early the next morning they ran back to Jerusalem to find Jesus.
They looked in all the places they had been – the market, the house where they had dinner, the gift shop, and couldn’t find Jesus anywhere. They were getting really upset.
Finally they went to look in the Temple.
And there they found Jesus. He was sitting with the Teachers
But instead of Jesus listening to the Teachers, the Teachers were listening to Jesus. Jesus was only 13 and these were wise old men, but they were listening to what Jesus had to say about God.
Mary cried out to Jesus, “Where have you been? We have looked everywhere for you, we were so worried about you!” How would you feel if your Mom said that to you?
Jesus looked at his mother and said, “ Why were you worried and why did you look anywhere but here in the Temple? Didn’t you know I would be in my father’s house?” Mary and Joseph and Jesus went home to Nazareth. Mary thought of what Jesus had said for many days.
Whose house is the Temple?
What was Jesus telling us about himself, about his light?
January 24 Baptism of Jesus
The world Jesus lived in was very dry. There were deserts and rocky mountains and many dry places where people and animals lived.
The desert is constantly moving and changing place. The wind comes and moves the sand. You might see one shape one day and not be able to see it again the next day.
The desert could be very hot when the daytime sun beat down. But when the sun went away the desert was very cold. Hot all day and cold all night.
And in the desert a little bit of water would look like a lot. People and animals searched out the water for life. Water gave them life in this dangerous place.
In this desert there is a great river – the Jordan. People and their animals gathered by this river to drink its life-giving water, to bathe and wash in its stream.
A man named John stood by the Jordan and preached. He was a wild and crazy guy eating locust and wearing rough clothes but the people knew he spoke the word of God.
John was a prophet of God – remember prophets? They hear the word of God and speak it to the people. It wasn’t John’s words that came out of his mouth but God’s.
John told the people that one greater than him would come. John said that he wasn’t even fit to tie this man’s shoes.
One day Jesus came to the Jordan River. He met John there. It was like John had been waiting for him. Because when the people asked John if he was the chosen one, the long waited for messiah, he said NO.
So Jesus came to John at the Jordan River. The place of life in the desert. And John baptized Jesus. When John brought Jesus up out of the water those nearby saw something amazing.
The clouds parted and some people – not everyone – said they heard a voice that said, “This is my son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” Whose voice was that? God’s?
Jesus didn’t take a big bow, or start signing autographs like some people might do if they had just been named as the son of God.
Jesus walked away from the Jordan, away from the river of life into the sands of the desert.
Why do you think he did that?
January 31 Calling the Disciples
Jesus lived a place called the Galilee. It was a poor place, no one had much money or much to live on.
What they did have was a sea – the Sea of Galilee. And many of the people of Galilee were fishermen
It was hard work – the men had to throw nets into the water and then reach down and haul them up. Sometimes there were lots of fish – but sometimes there were none
But the fishermen never gave up – if one day there were no fish they believed the next day there would be fish
Jesus grew up watching people fish. He knew how much they believed in what they were doing. He knew that fishermen were strong. He knew fishermen had faith.
So when it was time for him to begin his ministry – he knew who to ask. Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee and called to the fishermen.
Jesus said, “Follow Me.” And these fishermen, these guys didn’t really know who Jesus was – but they listened
They listened to Jesus saying “Follow me,” and they dropped their nets and came out of their boats to hear him better
Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you a new kind of fisherman – instead of throwing your nets into the sea you will walk with me and learn how to throw your nets into the world.”
Jesus said, “I will make you fishers of people.”
What do think Jesus meant by fisher of people?
What do you think the fishermen thought about Jesus?
Why do you think they followed him?
February 7 Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5: 1-12
Jesus and his disciples walked all around the Sea of Galilee teaching and preaching and making people well. People followed him, crowds of people began to form wherever and whenever Jesus was around. People wanted to hear him teach and preach, to touch him, to be near him.
One day there were so many people that he had to go up the mountain for a time to pray before he could begin to teach.
I like that about Jesus – that he needed to be alone to pray sometimes. When he came down, he found a nice grassy place and had everyone sit down
Then he began to teach them. Jesus said:
- “God blesses those people who depend only on him. They belong to the kingdom of heaven!
- God blesses those people who grieve. They will find comfort!
- God blesses those people who are humble. The earth will belong to them!
- God blesses those people who want to obey him more than to eat or drink. They will be given what they want!
- God blesses those people who are merciful. They will be treated with mercy!
- God blesses those people whose hearts are pure. They will see him!
- God blesses those people who make peace. They will be called his children!
- God blesses those people who are treated badly for doing right. They belong to the kingdom of heaven.
- God will bless you when people insult you, mistreat you, and tell all kinds of evil lies about you because of me.
- Be happy and excited! You will have a great reward in heaven. People did these same things to the prophets who lived long ago.”
- These are the new rules, the new way to live together.
Remember Moses? He brought the people rules from a mountain top, from God.
What was the name of those rules? The Ten Commandments.
Yes, those were new rules then – new ways for people who had been slaves to learn to live as free people.
Jesus gives a new set of rules to the people. These are called the Beatitudes.
What do these rules teach us?
I wonder which rule you like best?
I wonder which rule might be the hardest to do?
February 14 Transfiguration - Matthew 17: 1-9
Jesus was with his disciples. They walked and talked, and listened as Jesus preached to the people. One day Jesus said to Peter and James and John, “let’s go up the mountain and pray.”
Climbing the mountain was tiring and by the time they got to the top Peter and James and John were so tired that even though they tried to pray, they fell asleep. Jesus prayed alone as they slept.
All of the sudden a bright light shown on the mountain top, so bright that it woke Peter and James and John up!
They looked at Jesus and he was shining, it was like he was covered in light brighter than the sun
And with Jesus were Moses and Elijah – the two great prophets of Israel. Jesus was talking with them – just like he would talk with anyone else.
Peter was so excited he could barely keep from shouting. Peter said to Jesus, “This is great, let’s build houses here – one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah!” While Peter was talking a bright cloud came over the mountain and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my son, the beloved; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
Well Peter and James and John were so scared they fell down to the ground. But Jesus told them not to be afraid and when they looked at him he was alone, and looked no different than they did.
Jesus told them that they could not stay on the mountain.
Jesus told them their job was to go with him through the land – to teach and preach, to make sad people happy and sick people well. But he told them not to say anything about what had just happened.
What would it have been like to be on the mountain?
Would you have been scared?
Would you want to tell someone what happened?
Why do you think Jesus said not to tell?