January 10, 2021 - Today is the Sunday we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord. Actually the Epiphany has a set date on the Christian Calendar: January 6. However, Methodists usually don’t attend church on the actual date to celebrate this festival day. This year the news concentrated on that dark day—January 6, 2021, and the attack on the US Capitol. People of my generation will always remember November 22, 1963, and September 11, 2001—now adding January 6, 2021. But it is a new year, bringing hope and a promise that things will be better.
We at Paxton are collecting cans of tuna for Community Christian Services this month. Last Wednesday, after I got my hair cut, I stopped at CCS to unload cans and boxes of soup and give them two checks from the church. The man who helped me unload my truck asked me if I remembered him. I did and was delighted to see him so many years after I was his high school principal. John and I reminisced a little bit about times past. At church Sunday I read aloud the letter from Joaquin First Baptist, thanking us for helping with the kids’ Christmas giveaway. It is a real joy for our small church to have a part in the wonderful work CCS does for our area.
The Sunday School lesson came from Isaiah. This book of the Jewish scriptures is the most quoted book in the Christian New Testament. Our author explains that most Old Testament scholars believe that the extensive book was actually the work of three authors over a long period of time. I didn’t remember that the first Isaiah was a priest and a prophet. Our author says a priest was to speak to God on behalf of the people, while a prophet spoke to the people on behalf of God. Those two jobs must have been hard to balance sometimes.
Our two CD song selections were “Blessed Assurance” and “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus,” two old favorites that we know well. Sue plays the CDs for our hymns and also the Gloria Patri and the Doxology. Our third hymn was one we listened to, “We Three Kings,” sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. That song is on my phone: My daughter gave me a bluetooth speaker, so anything I can download to my phone, I can play for church. Today, Epiphany, our scripture was Matthew 2: 1-12.
Only in Matthew do we find the wise men. Luke had his shepherds in the fields watching their flocks; Matthew had magi watching the stars—and one star in particular. Matthew doesn’t tell us how many wise men there were, where they came from, or how long their journey to reach Bethlehem lasted. But we know that when they finally arrived, they went to a house to visit the young Jesus. Did their journey take a week, ten days, three months, six months? We are not told. But we know they didn’t meet up with shepherds at a barn/stable on what is now called Christmas Day.
Whoever you are, in whatever faith you were born, whatever creed you profess; if you come to this house to find God you are welcome here. Paxton United Methodist Church is an inviting church that takes to heart the idea of “Open Doors, Open Hearts, and Open Minds.” Worship begins at 10:00. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like the weekly email newsletter about Paxton Methodist, you can send your email address to the Paxton email address, and I will add you to the list. God’s Speed.