January 2016

Post date: Dec 28, 2015 7:53:28 PM

Dear People of God,

Happy Epiphany! Epiphany is the season of light. Amidst the winter darkness, we continue to celebrate the light of the world, which is Jesus the Savior. I suppose the days are actually starting to get a little bit longer now, since the winter solstice was December 21st. But it’s not until February that we really notice more minutes of daylight: especially if it’s foggy! “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5

Of course darkness is more than physical. There is much spiritual darkness in our world and within ourselves at times. When we are in the dark spiritually or emotionally or mentally we need to let the light of Christ shine upon us. Worship, Bible study, prayer, fellowship, working together as Christians and serving our neighbors in need are some of the ways in which Jesus shines his light on us and in which we have the opportunity to shine Christ’s light upon other people.

January 1st is not only New Year’s Day on the secular calendar, but is also “The Naming of Jesus” in the church calendar. Jewish babies were named on their 8th day of life. The name “Jesus” (or Yeshua/Joshua) means “God saves”. As the angel told Joseph in a dream,” She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21. The naming of Jesus is an epiphany moment. How appropriate to start off a new year in the name of Jesus, the one who saves.

The secular world may view January as post-Christmas let down (and post-Christmas debt). But for Christians, January is Epiphany, which means “a revelation, a manifestation, a bringing to light.” The actual day of Epiphany is January 6th with the wisemen’s visit to the child Jesus. The wise Magi traveled long and far, they followed the star, to find the Messiah. All they found was a humble baby with peasant parents, but they knew. They knew Jesus was the light of the world, they offered him kingly gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh and then they bowed down and worshiped him. The wisemen helped bring to light the true identity of Jesus.

Another Epiphany moment happens as Jesus is baptized. We celebrate the Baptism of our Lord Jesus on Sunday, January 10th. Jesus is baptized by John in the River Jordan. Though sinless, Jesus is baptized in solidarity with us and with all people. As Jesus is baptized, the heavens are opened, the Spirit of God descends on him like a dove and God’s voice from heaven says, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” Luke 3:22. Jesus’ baptism is his commissioning for service. After he is baptized, Jesus starts preaching, teaching, feeding and healing people and journeying toward the cross, the grave and the resurrection.

In our own baptisms, God claims us as his daughters and sons and commissions us for service in the name of our crucified and risen Savior, Jesus Christ. Secure in the knowledge that Jesus is indeed the Savior of the world, let us then shine some light and love of Jesus through our living. Let us be epiphany moments for other people. Let us, in our time, always continue to worship Jesus, to be illuminated by his light and to share his light with others who are longing for some good news.

May the light of Jesus Christ shine upon you and through you in 2015!

Pastor Dennis