Christmas was almost two weeks ago. Most of our decorations are put away, the kids are back at school, and while we may not be fully settled into the New Year, we are finding ourselves being forced back into some kind of routine. Winter has reminded us that we live in a part of the country with distinct seasons. For that I am grateful. Each season has its own particular beauty and each can evoke our wonder. I know many people don’t like winter, but I appreciate the fact that winter boils things down to the essentials in ways the other seasons don’t. In winter, we have to be prepared: we have to keep food in the refrigerator, gas in the car, enough warm clothes and blankets, a warm home, and we need to know what’s coming.
Years ago, I lived in Minnesota, and after some years moved to Texas. I may not be in the majority here, but I would take a Minnesota winter to a Texas winter in a heartbeat. But I hope you have managed to keep warm throughout this cold spell. I also hope that shelters have had enough beds and food pantries and soup kitchens have had enough food. I hope we as a nation will work harder than we have to address the sin that we even need shelters and food pantries and soup kitchens, and I pray that as Christians we continue to stand up for those who for whatever reason need the kinds of resources these facilities offer.
All that being said, the season of Christmas is over, and this Sunday we enter the season of Epiphany. This Sunday is an unusual one in the church year, in that the readings for today can be either the wise men from the east come to the manger, or the baptism of Jesus.
This year we will look at Mark’s very brief version of the baptism of Jesus—which means it is also a day to look at our own baptism. The primary passage for the day is Mark 1:9-11, but we will also read Isaiah 43:1-7 to talk about our baptism and some of what it means to be baptized and called by God. When you watch a baby being baptized in the church, what thoughts go through your mind? Sunday’s sermon title is “Think About Your Own Baptism.”
Our hymns tomorrow are, How Firm a Foundation, When Jesus Came to Jordan, and Sent Forth by God’s Blessing. The Sanctuary Choir will keep to the Christmas component of the day and will sing We Have Seen His Star, by Everett Titcomb.
Lina Silvester is our Lay Reader, and Connie Palmer will deliver our Morning Prayer.
Tomorrow is Communion Sunday, so remember to bring food and personal items for the Food Pantry. Our Communion Offering will go to support the Episcopal Fund, which supports the work of United Methodist Bishops around the world.
Even before you arrive at worship, I encourage you to come to the first of this year’s Adult Faith Formation offerings.
For the next four Sundays, Rev. Dr. Nancy Duff will lead a series titled “Living Faithfully into Older Age.” We will meet in the Social Hall (until the Fellowship Room heat is fixed.) from 9:00 – 9:50 AM. This series will explore the promise and threat of older age.
· Wk. 1 (Jan. 7): Stages of Life
· Wk. 2 (Jan. 14): Retirement
· Wk. 3 (Jan.21): Long Term Care Facilities
· Wk. 4 (Jan. 28): Facing our Mortality.
Nancy is on faculty at Princeton Theological Seminary and teaches various classes on Medical Ethics. She has been on the Ethics Committee at the University Hospital of Princeton for over 20 years.
Also this Sunday, Sunday School classes for every age begin again after the Christmas break.
I hope you plan to be in church tomorrow. I understand that we may not say it as much as we should, but you are missed when you’re not here. I also think you miss something when you’re not here—a feeling of being connected with your church family, regular reminders of who you are as a child of God, the opportunity to consider what God is doing in your life, what direction God may be urging you to take…. The list goes on. Making a commitment to be in church regularly is a very good way to start the year and to be back in touch with God through this supportive and nurturing community of faith.
I send every good wish for the New Year, and with every hope that you will know God to be at work in your life throughout 2018.
With all hope and joy in believing,
P.S. I am sending this on Friday night so I can be ready to head off in the morning for the Men’s Breakfast at 8:30 at the Westfield Diner. I am hoping to see some of the men of the church there.