Happy New Year! 2023...
Not sure why, but that number catches my attention and brings a variety of emotions. Maybe it’s that as a young person this year seemed so far away into the future and now it’s here! Maybe it’s my grandchildren’s (still surprised that I’m a grandparent – “only old people are grandparents”) newly blossoming little lives. But mostly, the emotion I feel is excitement and expectation.
One of my favorite radio shows is Science Friday on NPR. During the afternoon on Fridays, the host looks at some of the top Science stories of the past week or month and it’s amazing all the new discoveries and research that is happening and what the possibilities are for the future! With his guests, they explain and show the relevance of these new discoveries, ideas, and theories. I enjoy all the new things I learn!
As you read this column, we’ll have finished Christmas & Christmastide and are now in the “Season after the Epiphany”. An epiphany, according to Mr. Webster’s book, is defined as, “a visionary moment when a character has a sudden insight or realization...” The Joy of Christmas moves to the discovery of what the Christmas event can mean in our lives. Those new discoveries lead to a new awareness and are the “epiphany(ies)” that lead us into deeper discipleship as we seek to follow the Christ.
The first Sunday of this season begins with the story of Jesus’ baptism and the Last Sunday on the Transfiguration where Jesus goes to the top of a mountain with Peter, James, and John where he is “Transfigured” and appears to the three disciples in his glorified state. The Sunday Gospel readings center on stories from the early ministry of Christ.
While we celebrated the ancient story of the birth of Christ at Christmas, this new season following Epiphany can allow us the opportunities of “sudden insight or realization” of what the possibilities, outcomes, new ideas & new practices, and more intentional discipleship might mean for us as a congregation and personally for you and me! Just as Science Friday names the top stories of what’s happening in the world of science, so I invite you to think through what are the “Top Stories” in your life and what might that mean for your spiritual journey in this new year and how might this deepen your relationship with Christ and grow you as his disciple?
Let me encourage you in four responses to Epiphany:
Make Sunday Worship a high Priority. Come, gather with your faith family regularly building bonds of deep friendship and connectedness to your family of faith. If you do come very often already, take a role in the worship leadership on Sunday mornings as an Usher, Greeter, Lay Reader, join the choir, help with the Tech Team, or help serve during the fellowship time following worship service.
Read more scripture. If you’re wanting specific ideas, try reading two of the gospels and see what’s unique and similar between the two, read the Book of James, or First John, or Isaiah.
Start or build on a devotional practice of prayer and reflection.
Begin or build on a health discipline of exercise and healthy lifestyle.
As we move into this season of new insight, new discoveries, and new awareness – may God lead us as a faith family while we seek to become the Resurrection Community as the Body of Christ we are called to be.
Be God’s, Pastor Jim