I took down the Moravian stars last evening, having lit them for the last time on Wednesday, the Day of Epiphany. We had already put the trees and wreaths and other ornaments away. So all signs of the recent Christmas season are gone, at least around our house. It must be a new year!
My schedule this week certainly feels like a new year, back to “normal” at that. Meetings and Wonderful Wednesday resuming, deadlines to meet, calls to make, etc.
On the church’s liturgical (worship) calendar it is now the “Season after Epiphany.” Last Sunday we observed Epiphany, recalling the traditional Epiphany story of the “Wise Men” (Magi) and their journey to worship the “newborn king.” We noted how these strangers from afar, these men of another religion, these citizens of another land, were drawn by God to worship the Child, part of God’s plan for the salvation of ALL the world. We also considered Herod’s murderous actions and the necessity for Joseph, Mary, and Jesus to flee as refugees to Egypt. Yes, our Lord himself was once a refugee. What does that say about our attitudes toward and actions on behalf of refugees in our day? Not an easy question, but one a number of you have presented to me.
This Sunday, the First Sunday After Epiphany, is traditionally known as “The Baptism of the Lord.” We will read the story of Jesus’ baptism and ponder it’s meaning for us. Baptism is one of our two sacraments (Holy Communion being the other). What does baptism mean for us? The answer to that is multi-faceted, grace-filled, and identity-giving!
One thing baptism means is that we who are baptized are part of the “living Body of Christ” and have ministries to fulfill in the name of Christ. We will recognize our elected officers, and widen the circle to recognize all persons who are in ministry within/without the church. And then we will “remember that we are baptized and be thankful,” with the opportunity to come forward in an act of remembrance and commitment. This is one of the most meaningful services of the year for me, and many of you have expressed the same feelings.
So I hope you’ll be here Sunday. Bring a friend who might benefit from hearing how baptism can have very special meaning for each of us in our daily living. We will remember who we are as God’s beloved children, which speaks volumes about how and where we find meaning, purpose, and identity in life.
See you Sunday,