Dear CBC friends
You all know the song The Twelve Days of Christmas, but do you know what the 12 days are? They are the 12 days from Christmas to 6 January, which is the twelfth day and known as Epiphany. Epiphany is one of the Christian church’s three principal and oldest festival days, the other two being Christmas and Easter. The term comes from the Greek word epiphanea, which means “manifestation”.
In the Western church the festival primarily commemorates the visit of the magi to the infant Jesus. This was the first manifestation of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, emphasising that Christ, the Jewish Messiah, also came for the salvation of Gentiles. In the Eastern church the day is called Theophany and primarily commemorates the baptism of Jesus and his manifestation to the world as the incarnate Christ.
I mention all that because today is Epiphany and to put our first few worship services for the year into context.
Last Sunday Belinda preached on the visit of the magi to worship Jesus in Matthew 2:1-12. Her title was “We are the Magi”. She suggested that the magi do not simply represent foreigners, but us, and that “God has shone light on us, and we are invited to worship a king who rules as a shepherd, who identifies with the lost and the least, who calls his followers to take another road.”
This coming Sunday Belinda will again be leading the morning service and preaching. The lectionary Gospel reading is Mark 1:4-11, the baptism of Jesus, and the psalm is 29. Whether your surname starts with A-H or I-Z, you are welcome to attend in the church where the updated COVID-safe procedures will be in place. Otherwise, you can join the livestream over Zoom by clicking on the usual link that will be in the coming e-bulletin again.
Psalm 29:2 seems an appropriatre verse to keep in mind as we prepare to join in that service, whether in church or over Zoom. “Ascribe to the LORD the glory of his name; worship the LORD in holy splendor.” (NRSV)
I will be Zooming in from the manse on the twelfth day of the isolation required after my visit to Sydney for Christmas. I had a negative COVID early on and I’m feeling fine and working from my “home office”. Kristine is still in Sydney, having committed to attend a St John’s First Aid course tomorrow to update her competencies in preparation for SMAD. She will return as soon as ACT no longer requires her to isolate.
Fortunately, Belinda’s isolation period ended just after mine commenced. Cecelia is back and the office is open again at the usual times. Many of the groups and activities for the Community Centre and the Church are starting up again for the year. See the e-bulletin for details or contact your ministry leader/coordinator.
Morning prayers (8.00-8.30am weekdays) and Sunday@6 have already recommenced and you’re invited to join us. Eliza Maddever and the youth are away on camp this weekend at Braidwood and SMAD runs from Monday 18 to Friday 22 January.
While we entered 2021 with hopes of a much better year than 2020, there have already been some worrying developments with COVID on the world scene and with other personal matters for some of us. I’m sure there will still be many positives ahead, but no doubt many challenges as well. As we recommenced morning prayers on Monday and faced the year ahead, some verses from Proverbs were an encouragement to us.
“Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try cto figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything youi do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, Msg)
And to close, the final verse of that psalm for this Sunday — partly as a benediction but also as a reminder.
“The LORD goives strength to his people;
the LORD blesses his people with peace.” (Psalm 29:11, NIV)
Blessings for this week and 2021.