January 8, 2017: “Awakening Faith”

Posted on : Jan 5th, 2017 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

It always seems to me that Christmas is slow in arriving and fast in leaving. Today is the 12th and last day of Christmas. In the Christian tradition, Christmas is not a day, but 12 days – during which we reflect on what the birth of Christ means for us and our world. Note to self: there is little resemblance between our current cultural celebration of Christmas and what God meant it to be.

According to the Bible, the celebration of the birth of Jesus isn’t as important as the simple fact that he was born a human being: a baby, born to a very poor mother and father who had little money but lots of love to give. In the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, not one of them agrees on any of the details about Jesus’ birth other than the fact that he was born a human being, a baby, and his parents were Mary and Joseph.

Part of the reason there is such a mixture of stories about Jesus’ birth is that what was most important to the first followers of Jesus was not the circumstances surrounding his birth, but how he interacted with real people. It was what he taught, what he valued and what he embodied that was most important. That is how and where the people learned about God and how God was present with them in Jesus.

So the Christian Church observes a short, 12 day celebration of the birth of Jesus, but then enters into a more extended time of discovering how and where God is present with us today. This time is traditionally called “Epiphany.” An epiphany is a revealing of something important and meaningful. I actually think of them as “Awakening” moments – moments when we discover or experience God’s presence with us. Those moments awaken faith within us.

So, in the next 8 weeks we are going to focus on “Awakening Faith: How we experience God in our lives.” The first four “awakenings” will be these:

The God who keeps showing up

The God who refuses to leave

The God who keeps searching for us

The God who won’t take “no” for an answer

Blessings to you, to those you love, and to all the people of our world as we enter this New Year and this time of “Awakening Faith.”

Dan

 

~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Matthew 2: 1-18

Matthew tells of the world into which Jesus was born

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’ When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

“And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
   are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
   who is to shepherd my people Israel.” ’

 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’ When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

The Escape to Egypt

 Now after they had left, an angel of God appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to kill him.’ Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by God through the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I have called my son.’

The Massacre of the Infants

 When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:

‘A voice was heard in Ramah,
   wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
   she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.’

 

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