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“And now, O glorious and blessed God, father, son and Holy Spirit, thou art mine and I am thine. So be it.”

January 6, 2023
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Daily Scripture

Matthew 28:18-20, 2 Corinthians 13:13, 1 John 4:7-13

Matthew 28

18 Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”

2 Corinthians 13

13 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

1 John 4

7 Dear friends, let’s love each other, because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born from God and knows God. 8 The person who doesn’t love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how the love of God is revealed to us: God has sent his only Son into the world so that we can live through him. 10 This is love: it is not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as the sacrifice that deals with our sins.
11 Dear friends, if God loved us this way, we also ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. If we love each other, God remains in us and his love is made perfect in us. 13 This is how we know we remain in him and he remains in us, because he has given us a measure of his Spirit.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Neither we (nor for that matter John Wesley) invented the “covenant” we renew at the start of 2023. We are renewing and affirming our intention to accept and enter God’s covenant, offered to humans in various ways throughout history. (“Covenant” occurs between 240 and 395 times in the Bible, depending on which English translation you use.) It is the eternal promise of the eternal, triune God to be our loving, accepting, redeeming, connecting God, if we will only accept the promise.

  • Why didn’t Wesley just leave the prayer at “O glorious and blessed God”? Because that would be an incomplete confession of the God we serve. “Naming the Trinity is perhaps naming the biggest mystery of God in Christianity. To evoke the Trinity, then, in the form of prayer might very well be the most profound act a Christian can carry out.” * What do you find most mysterious about our great God? What most draws you and helps you to experience God’s life-changing love?
  • One sometimes unnoticed consequence of faith in the Trinity, with all its mysteries, is that serving the triune God draws us into an inherently connected, relational faith experience. That was why in 1 John we read that “God IS love,” and therefore “the person who doesn’t love does not know God.” In what ways have you experienced God’s love through the love of other believers? How does that God-given connection go beyond mere human “liking” or “attraction”?
Prayer

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we love you deeply and we want to honor you with our attitude, behaviors, and lifestyle. You are a relational God, and we aim to offer you our love with the way we treat others. Amen.

GPS Insights

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe & his wife, Doris, first met in a Resurrection Single Adult Sunday School class in 1997 & were married in what is now the Student Center. They are empty nesters with 2 college-aged sons, Matthew & Jacob. Darren serves as a Couples Small Group co-leader & Men's Group Leader, while volunteering in a variety of other capacities at Resurrection.

Happy Day of Epiphany! Today is a day of celebration for Christians around the world as we commemorate the presentation of Jesus to the Magi, aka the 3 Wise Men. Let’s take a closer look at today’s holiday:

Epiphany can mean “to show” or “to make known” or “to reveal.” Matthew 2:1-12 provides the Scriptural reference for our celebration as it tells the story of 3 magi presenting gifts of Frankincense, Gold, & Myrrh to Jesus. (Interestingly, the Scriptures don’t say there were three men, just that 3 gifts were presented. So, the assumption is that it would be a tad awkward for a 4th king to appear without any gifts, thus there were probably only 3 visitors.)

Aside: If Jesus was born in today’s high tech/social media environment, the 3 wise men would probably come bearing GIFs.

Matthew describes the men as magi, which was a loosely defined term in New Testament times, meaning astrologers, seers, or even fortunetellers. The early church expanded the description of our trio to “kings,” perhaps influenced by Psalm 72:11, “May all kings bow down to him & all nations serve him.”

Epiphany (sometimes referred to as 3 Kings Day) is traditionally celebrated on January 6. It is considered the climax of the Christmas Season – 12 days after Christmas. (Thus, the much-parodied song, The 12 Days of Christmas, refers to the number of days between Christmas & Epiphany.)

Early Christians named the 3 kings: Caspar, Melchior, & Balthasar. Some Christians chalk the kings’ initials on the doorways of their houses on Epiphany to serve as an invitation for Christ to bless & enter this home. (For example, in 2023 we could write: 20+C+M+B+23. CMB can also represent the Latin phrase, “Christus Mansionem Benedicat” which means, “May Christ bless this house.”) Some churches commemorate Epiphany with a day of outreach to their next-door-neighbors by offering teams of volunteers to help with light yard work, passing out cookies, or clothing exchanges.

Aside: For Christmas season, we always prepare a Good King Wenceslas style pizza – Deep & Crisp & Even.

We might be a bit puzzled at the selected gifts presented to Jesus. (One wonders if Mary asked, “Um, do you still have the receipt for these?”) However, some theologians suggest that each of the gifts would have had great value, would have been a noteworthy representation of that king’s homeland, & would have had significant meaning:

  • Gold’s appeal is obvious, representing wealth & royalty.
  • Frankincense was an expensive fragrance made from trees in India & Arabia.
  • Myrrh was an embalming fluid/anointing oil from Arabia & Ethiopia.

Some traditionalists move the 3 magi closer & closer to the nativity scene until they finally appear on January 6. To be honest, when the boys were little guys, their toy nativity set looked a little worse for wear by the time January 6 rolled around. Here is a re-creation of our nativity scene from years ago:

As you can see, Spiderman has joined the angel, one of the kings is now Indiana Jones, and Snoopy & Scooby-Doo are mingling with the other animals around the manger. (Editor: And whom exactly is that guy standing on the far right? Oh, he’s A Silent Knight – DL. Sigh – Editor.)

So why is Epiphany important? Epiphany officially commemorates the presentation of the Christ child to not only the Jewish people, but now to the entire world. The emphasis that the magi traveled from afar & came from a variety of cultures affirms that Jesus came as a savior for each & every one of God’s children. This Good News is reinforced throughout the gospels, but especially when Jesus issues the Great Commission, “…go & make disciples of all nations.”

You know, on 2nd thought, maybe our boys’ post-modern nativity scene is more apt than we think. Maybe we shouldn’t be in such a rush to pack away our nativity set in the attic & store it out of sight until next Christmas. (I don’t mean for us to literally leave the nativity out all year; after all it’d look pretty odd next to all of our decorations for our Kansas Day celebration on January 29.)

But perhaps we could metaphorically keep the celebration of Epiphany at the forefront of our minds & let it be actively immersed within our everyday lives. Imagine if went about our day with the expectation that we would seek to reveal Christ & His love in every interaction we have: All of our social media posts would be uplifting, our colleagues at work would marvel at our kindness & patience, & our younger family members, home for Christmas break, would probably question our mental competence. (“Dad didn’t even say a word about the roll of toilet paper just sitting on the bathroom counter & not being replaced on the spool.” “Whoa. I’ll start browsing retirement home brochures.”) What a wonderful world that could be.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to clean up our nativity set. Apparently, someone is taking that Christmas hymn a bit too literally by sprinkling protein powder on the nativity scene. (Which song? Editor. A Whey in a Manger – DL. Sigh. I really need to stop asking these questions – Editor.)

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* Folmsbee, Chris. The Wesley Prayer Challenge Participant Book (p. 112). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition. See also Hamilton, Adam, Creed (Creed series) (pp. 89-98). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.