Yesterday was Epiphany and at McCrae Brook, one of the ways that we celebrated was by having some Rosca de Reyes or Three Kings Bread. It was delicious. I will say that as a baking project it was a process, but I believe that it was well worth it. [Here is the recipe that I used. ]
One last Christmas song…it’s more of a hybrid Christmas/Epiphany song, but a song that I shared yesterday morning.
It’s Sunday night and we are watching the Bears and Eagles play in the Wildcard matchup. It is another drama-filled game from a Pennsylvania football team. (Edit: what a nailbiting ending! #flyeaglesfly!
As I have already posted today is Epiphany and we celebrated the arrival to the Magi to Jesus. Last night I made a King’s bread or Rosco de Reyes. It is a traditional Epiphany bread – especially in Spanish speaking countries. Epiphany pre-dates Christmas as a Christian feast day. In Mexico the children put their shoes out with straw for the camels in exchange for gifts from the Wisemen. The bread was a big production – taking most of last evening to put together – but well worth the effort. The congregation loved it. After worship today, we took our son back to college.
This past week we had a great visit from our children and grandkids. My son-in-law assisted me with worship at prayer meeting on Wednesday night and it was a special evening of worship. It was good to have the kids around. We pulled out the Wii and introduced Robert to MarioKart. We had our Christmas celebration – appropriately during the 12 days of Christmas.
The weather has been unseasonably warm. Two years ago we had a low of 11. Last year our low was in the single digits – and their was snow on the ground both years. If we have any snow, it’s in one little pile. It is really muddy and we are supposed to get more rain this week, but it’s supposed to turn cooler by mid-week. But the unseasonable warm returns by late next weekend.
That’s about all I have – have a great week!
The Epiphany January 6
O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the Peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
The Epiphany | January 6, 2019
Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”
King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”
“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:
‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah,
are not least among the ruling cities of Judah,
for a ruler will come from you
who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’”
Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”
After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.
Matthew 2:1-12 New Living Translation (NLT)
Epiphany means a revelation, an a-ha moment. This is what we look at today. Our church will be celebrating – along with other churches around the world, the arrival of the Magi. In researching my sermon for tomorrow, I found that the Feast of Epiphany was founded before Christmas. Much of what we celebrate at Christmas – as the church goes – was initially celebrated at Epiphany.
Epiphany celebrates the arrival of the Wise Men to Jesus. Whether they were wisemen (sages), kings, or magicians really remains a mystery. We often think there were three, but only because there were three gifts. The gifts represent:
- Gold for Christ’s kingship
- Frankensence to symbolize Christ’s priesthood
- Myrrh to symbolize that Christ would die for our sins.
The arrival of the wisemen to Jesus reminds us that God’s plan for salvation is for the whole world – for Jews as well as Gentiles. These wisemen were magicians, scientists and mathematicians, astrologists and astronomers, and promient counselors in eastern countries. These “Gentiles” were not followers of God. Yet God used their knowledge and skill to draw them to baby Jesus, and in doing so, they had a personal awakening and packed their bags to travel many days to worship this newborn King.
God desires that we have an awakening as well. I encourage you to seek the Lord, just like the wisemen did.
The Holy Name January 1
Eternal Father, you gave to your incarnate Son the holy name of Jesus to be the sign of our salvation: Plant in every heart, we pray, the love of him who is the Savior of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
New Year’s Day | January 1, 2019
“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing?When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”
Matthew 25:31-46 New Living Translation (NLT)
Today is the first year of 2019. That feels a little weird typing it. Both this post and the other post for this day were written last night. It feels weird especially the first time you do it.
Today we have a remarkable passage from Matthew 25 – which in many ways is a continuation of Matthew 24. These passages describe the signs and times of the coming Kingdom of Heaven.
Matthew 25 tells us about the judgement at the end of time. All the nations are gathered there and the Great Shepherd now separates the sheep from the goats. This can be a tricky passage – on one hand it appears from a surface reading that the shepherd is simply separating the animals based on what they did or didn’t do. The ones who did good works are the sheep and the ones who failed to do good works are the goats. Like I said, this passage could be troubling to read it that way. After all, most of us believe that Christians are saved by faith and not by our works – not by what we have done.
But what if we did a little deeper. What if the sheep are those who are merciful, kind, generous, loving and willing to do whatever it takes – even at their own expense – to follow Jesus. It is those who are completely sold out to Jesus – as a result of their love and devotion to Christ they help out other humans who are in true need. As a result they are the hands and feet of Jesus and their faith is shown because of their deeds – by what they have done. In James 2:14-17 we have these words:
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?James 2:14-17
So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
If our faith doesn’t include love and compassion for our neighbor – what good is it.
The goats are on the left – what words would we use to describe them?
Selfish, self-centered, self-absorbed and self-seeking – We can see that the goats are the antithesis of love, because nothing really matters except for them. You can’t live for yourself and be a child of God. Our faith must be worked out in action.
As we begin this new year, I want to encourage you to be fully surrendered to the cause of Christ. Be fully surrendered to Christ – his will. Do what He is calling you to do!