Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Approximate notes for Sunday’s Message; 4 January 2015; Epiphany Sunday; Matthew 2:1-12

This coming Sunday, January 4, 2015, the community of Worton UMC will hold their services at the usual time at 8:15.
At 10 am, the community of Christ United Methodist Church will joyfully welcome Pastor Tonya and the community of First UMC for a joint service. Pastor Tonya will be preaching at CUMC.

Scriptures for this Sunday are: Matthew 2:1-12

You can read these Scriptures here: NIV and ESV

Hymns for Sunday:

UMH 254 – We Three Kings
UMH 219 – What Child Is This (verse 1)
UMH 203 – Hail To The Lord’s Anointed

Tuesday, January 6, 2015 will mark the twelfth day of the Christmas season. In the Spanish-speaking world, and also in some of the Orthodox communions, believers exchange gifts on January 6 instead of on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The reason for this is because that is the day when we traditionally remember the Wise Men (or the Magi) who discerned that something important was happening in the land of Judah, and who then embarked on a quest to discover the newborn that was going to change the world.

I am not what you would call a traditional Christian; I was not born into the faith and I was not raised with many of the traditions and customs that all of you share. Personally, I understand the traditions where Christmas gifts are exchanged on the day of the Epiphany, January 6th. Epiphany is the last day of the Christmas season. It is the Grand Finale. On that day we remember the men like the Magi who were open-minded and courageous enough to go on a quest to seek the Truth, even at the risk that the journey would change them. In our day and age we need more men and women like that.

The Magi brought gifts to the recently born Jesus, but they bring gifts to us as well. They bring to us a connection between us and those who believe in different things than we do. The Wise Men left the comfort and safety of their home in search of internal peace, the love of God, hope in the future and a chance of redemption. They bring us hope that we can find a common language and work together as we strive to understand God better.

The sad truth is that religions get perverted. Power gets abused. Egos get in the way. Those who are skilled in polemics and know how to sound spiritual could, if they desired, manipulate believers to do their bidding. The history of Christianity is full of examples of this. At home, the Magi were powerful men. They talked to kings on equal footing (i.e. they did not hesitate to go to Herod’s Palace). With all of that, they were able to set their egos aside, they were willing to stop talking in order to listen to God long enough to hear God’s guidance (they returned home by a different route). They were flexible enough and courageous enough to leave the palaces of Jerusalem and go into the slums of Bethlehem where Jesus was born.

Ultimately we do not know where the Magi came from; I believe that they crossed ancient Persia as they traveled to Bethlehem but that is just a hunch. Without them, however, the Christmas Story would be very different. The Magi bring with them idealism, tolerance, perseverance, and understanding. They give us an example of how we can put our best foot forward as we strive to learn about God, hear the guidance of the Holy Spirit and to follow the example of Jesus.

Ultimately, God created each of us to work towards a more perfect ideal of ourselves. We call it a “journey to perfection.” The Wise Men in their determination and drive to become better versions of themselves organized a caravan and set out on a journey looking for peace, love, hope and redemption.

How far are you willing to go in search of these things?

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