EPIPHANY SUNDAY - Jan 3, 2021 - The Wise Men Arrive!
Happy New Year, dear friends!
Have you noticed? Over the last few years, it seems people speak less of making “Resolutions” for the new year, than in the past. Actually, that makes me glad, because resolutions have often been an exercise in futility! Perhaps it has been for you as well.
On this day when the Christian Church commemorates the biblical story of the Wise Men - the “Magi” arriving to give homage to the Christ Child - I never can finish reading this account, than that I harken back to one of my long-wished-for “bucket listings.” And that is to ride a camel in some far flung desert - either at the Great Pyramids, or somewhere like Morocco. And not just for the fun of it, although that is surely part of it.
You see, I’d like to experience a small portion of what THEY experienced, those passionate wise ones who resolved (made a “resolution”) to see for themselves who this Christ Child was. Indeed they fulfilled the greatest “bucket list” item the world can ever achieve.
To see for ourselves, who this Jesus was, is, and always will be. To know the Christ, the Holy One as someone intimately close and real. To experience a release of our fears - fears of loneliness, fears of illness, fears of loss, in the knowledge that Jesus comforts all who hurt, and all who mourn.
May each of us receive this new year 2021, not in fear or dread, but rather as a bucket list to challenge us to deeper faith, and wider kindness. May it be so. Amen.
Blessings to you and yours,
Pastor Bob Macfarlane
Dear Members and Friends:
It has been quite a week as we all have been digging ourselves out of winter’s first major snowfall. It is our hope that you continue warm, well and safe.
A PRESENT AT CHRISTMAS
This week, a wonderful “Christmas Present” arrived at the Church Office - much to the delight of Peggy your Office Manager, and your Pastor. Your Consistory voted recently to replace the older copier whose lease was expiring this month, with a new model which now not only folds and staples, but also prints in color. In your mailbox soon, a mid-month Christmas Newsletter should arrive, with the cover letter in color to show you it’s capabilities. Enjoy!
CHRISTMAS EVE WORSHIP
MAKE YOUR RESERVATIONS
Two Services of Carols & Candlelight - 6 pm and 7:30 pm - have been scheduled. Please phone the Church Office (717-264-2854) to let us know which service you’d like to attend, and how many in your party. We are allowed only a maximum attendance of 25 at each Service. Remember that we continue to wear masks and social distance. Come hear the Carols on the organ, as we light our candles to “Silent Night.”
ADVENT CANDLE OF LOVE
During the three previous Advent Sundays, we lit the candles of HOPE, PEACE and JOY. This Sunday we light the 4th candle of LOVE, remembering the Scripture from 1 Corinthians 13: “Now faith, hope and love abide, these three. But the greatest of these is love.” We give thanks that we can gather about the Manger at Christmas to recall that the little infant of Bethlehem came to save the world from sin, and that through Jesus we may come to know the living God.
Sunday, December 13
GRACE TO YOU AND PEACE,
from God our Creator, and our Lord Jesus Christ! This is the day the Lord has made - let us rejoice and be glad in it! For no matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here - at Zion Reformed United Church of Christ.
JOY - OUR 3rd ADVENT SUNDAY
Even in the midst of these extremely tough days and months which our community and our world have been experiencing, still we can cling to our faith, which reminds us of the deep joy which shall come to all God’s people - joy to you and to me and to all those we love, whether near enough to see regularly, or those far away for whom only phone calls and emails and Christmas cards will suffice.
LIGHTING OF THE ADVENT WREATH
The Candle of JOY
If you are lighting your Advent Wreath this morning, you may light it now, along with Diana and me (and supervised by our cat Sam). We remember the 1st Candle, which was of HOPE - Hope that a Savior would enter this world of darkness. Then we recall that 2nd Candle, which was of PEACE - reminding us to pray and work for the ending of turmoil and distrust, conflict and war.
This morning, we light the 3rd candle of JOY, as we sing silently together:
Joy to the world, the Lord is come,
Let earth receive her King,
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing!
A PRAYERFUL BENEDICTION
(From my home church in Plymouth, Massachusetts)
We wait for justice but we do not wait to work for change;
We wait for restored health but we do not wait to work to heal;
We wait for wholeness but we do not wait to work at binding brokenness;
We wait for peace but we do not wait to work to eliminate hatred.
PEOPLE OF ZION
Go now into the world
And in joy.
Advent Blessings to all,