January 2017

Post date: Dec 26, 2016 8:19:28 PM

Dear People of God,

Merry Christmas! Yes, the 12 days of Christmas continue on through January 5th. I always encourage people to celebrate Christmas later and longer. I know that commercial Christmas ended on December 24th, except for returns and the after-Christmas sales. But Christians are encouraged to celebrate the birthday of our Savior Jesus, Immanuel, God-with-us, clear up until Epiphany on January 6th. Perhaps our Orthodox Christian friends have it right by waiting to celebrate the Nativity of our Lord until January 6th. This would separate Christian Christmas from commercial hype Christmas, which begins earlier and earlier every year.

During most of January we are in the season of Epiphany, which means a revelation, a manifestation, a clear understanding as something is brought to light: an “aha” moment. January is a dark, cold month. Sometimes I wonder if I would even make it through January without football play-offs and cross-country skiing. I don’t blame people for going someplace warm and sunny during January. But in the midst of the winter darkness, Christians celebrate Epiphany, the season of light: the light of the world, Jesus Christ.

On January 1st in the church calendar, we celebrate the Name of Jesus. The name Yeshua (Jesus) means, “God saves” or “One who Saves”. Matthew 1:21 says, “She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Aha!

On January 6th, the actual day of Epiphany, we celebrate the visit of the magi, the wisemen. The magi followed the star and traveled a long, long ways to find the child Jesus. Were they disappointed when all they found was a peasant child with humble parents? No. They were overwhelmed with joy and knelt down and worshiped him. Then they gave him gifts fit for a king. Aha!

On January 8th we celebrate the Baptism of our Lord Jesus. We remember and affirm our own baptisms into God’s family as we hear again that Jesus was baptized as one of us, and yet so much more. Matthew 3:16-17 says, “And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” Aha!

On January 16th, we celebrate the national holiday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Race relations are strained in our country and world. Hate crimes are on the rise. M.L. King’s dream of racial equality is an epiphany of what the kingdom of God looks like. There is no place for white supremacy in God’s realm of peace, justice, love and mercy. Aha!

Epiphany moments also happen in our everyday lives as we see the face of Christ in our neighbor. Matthew 25:40 says, “And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’” Aha!

God’s peace and blessings to you in this new year,

Pastor Dennis