Epiphany – Sharing the Good News

(I’m following these prompts for the 12 Days of Christmas)

Matthew 2:1-12

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Capture

I have trouble with this passage. You see, I know that it precedes the slaughter of all the boys under three years old.

(Matthew 2:16-17a – When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.)

Thankfully Herod didn’t get Jesus, but think of the suffering by the mothers when the king’s soldiers came and killed all their little boys. This knee-jerk reaction by Herod reminds me that we all need to be careful as we go about our lives. Who knows who will be harmed by an off-hand, misunderstood word of ours?

12th Day of Christmas – The Gift of the World

(I’m following these prompts for the 12 Days of Christmas)

John 3:16-17

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

View from my walk

My heart rises up in thanks and praise as I see the world I live in – the sky, the trees, the sound, the mountains – no wonder “God saw all that God had made, and it was very good.” Genesis 1:31a

11th Day of Christmas – The Gift of Time

(I’m following these prompts for the 12 Days of Christmas)

Psalm 131

My heart is not proud, Lord,
    my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
    or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
    I am like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child I am content.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord
    both now and forevermore.

Dinner on the Train 004

While looking for a picture for this post, I realized that I am content. For almost the first time in my life, I’m happy to be where I am, with who I’m with, doing what I’m doing. Thank you, God, for bringing me to this time of contentment and fulfillment!

10th Day of Christmas – The Gift of Blessing

(I’m following these prompts for the 12 Days of Christmas)

Luke 2:21-40

On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
    you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
    which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and the glory of your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.

Baptizing Kate (7)

This is the baptism of my granddaughter, Kate Elizabeth Watters. Her proud parents and brother brought her to the church to be baptized, and my father was the elder from the congregation who helped with the promises. Four generations! Baptisms of babies are always times for rejoicing.

8th Day of Christmas – The Gift of Invitation

(I’m following these prompts for the 12 Days of Christmas)

Philippians 1:3-8

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

Thanksgiving 2000 - Copy

An old family picture from a gathering at least 15 years ago. Papa is the only one who is gone, and we’ve added husbands and wives and several children.  I say with Paul “God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.”

8th Day of Christmas – The Gift of New Hope

(I’m following these prompts for the 12 Days of Christmas)

Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

Vacant house by my garage

This just looks like a mess, doesn’t it? But if you look closely you can see an empty bird’s nest. It’s in a bush just outside my front door. I know that in the spring, the bush will take on new leaves, and a sparrow will return to the nest and start a new family there. “And all will be made new!”

7th Day of Christmas – The Gift of Memory

(I’m following these prompts for the 12 Days of Christmas)

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

IMG_1072

The banners in church serve to remind me where I need to place my hope.