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January Newsletter Pastor's Page

PASTOR’S PAGE LESSONS FROM THE STORY OF THE WISE MEN January is the season of Epiphany. Epiphany, remember, means 'The Showing.' The symbols are the Star and the arrival of the Kings. In many Christian cultures Epiphany is a higher-celebrated holiday than Christmas. These Magi are fascinating characters. We don’t know there were three. That’s not in the story, so was added by the Christian tradition at some point. There’s also that interesting inconsistency in the clues about where they came from. Was the star “in the east?” Or did they ‘come from’ the east? There’s not a lot of territory due east of Bethlehem: mostly the Mediterranean Sea. But I suppose they might have made a camel journey up from Egypt or North Africa. Or, they might even have come first by boat from western Europe! As I have been ruminating on the story of the Wise Men in Matthew 2 this year, my mind is going to one line in the text upon which I have never preached: "And All Jerusalem With Him." It's both a contrast and a parallel to Palm Sunday. Do you really think "All Jerusalem" shared Herod's politicized paranoia about the coming of the Messiah? I doubt it. Indeed, I KNOW it is not true. We have old Simeon in the Temple who encounters the eight-day old Christ child at his briss (circumcision) and says the Nunc Dimittis: "Now I can depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord." Our own global geopolitical and domestic political climate are parallels. I do believe much of the groundswell of support for President-elect Trump is such fear. Though of course that is not ALL that is going on. It is never so simple. As should it for any President-elect, his rhetoric is shifting to Unity. But our nation is divided. Just because one political party is now in charge of all branches of government does not mean unity automatically exists. Even within the party now in power there are deep divisions. I have no doubt Jerusalem was divided as well. We had a different Herod on the throne by the time of Jesus' ministry, but the paranoia did not seem to lessen. For us Christians, the more important message of the coming of the Kings and Epiphany is the Light of Hope Coming into the World. How does that hope address the fractured disunity and promised possibility for coming together to address both global and domestic concerns creatively, 'by another road?' We Christians choose not to waver in our commitment to trusts that God loves His creation and people, and that ALL people are the people of God. That these Magi were from a distant foreign culture is another important part of the story. God was God over them as well. Those who have eyes to see can come together across differences to work for peace, justice and mercy in a spirit of hope. Rev. Mark Harvey P.S. Trustees Chairman Jim Hudson told me yesterday that the Trustees have approved the continuance of the Fellowship of Evangelical Pentecostals-Congoloese in their use of our facility, after a period of probation. Rev. Benjamini tells us he and his family and several others plan to worship with us on Christmas Eve.