This week we continue our Epiphany study of God’s Light with RECEIVING THE LIGHT – a Commitment to TRUTH. Our scriptures for this week include John 3:19-21, 1 John 1:5-10, and John 8:32. As followers of Jesus, the Light of the World, we must always be committed to the truth, no matter how inconvenient. “You shall know the truth,” Jesus says, “and the truth will set you free.”
p.s. Here are a few inspiring lines from 22 year old Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem.
These are dark, challenging days. We are still in the midst of a deadly pandemic, and a less than peaceful and smooth transfer of power. We desperately need some light to guide our way through these times. So this Epiphany Season my messages are on the theme: The Light Shines in the Darkness. This week our focus is on Following Jesus, the Light of the World. Our scripture texts come from John 8:12, 31-32, and Luke 6:46-49. “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’” asks Jesus, “and do not do what I tell you?” Those who claim the name of Christ must walk in his way if they acknowledge that he is The Light of the World.
We are living through challenging difficult times. Each day this past week we hit a new record of covid cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, and then on Wednesday there was the shocking Insurrection where deluded “patriots” stormed the United States Congress, to try to stop congress from certifying the electoral college votes. Their act of desecration succeeded only in delaying the count for five hours, but it was a wake up call to the danger of reckless falsehoods. Words are not neutral.
In this time of pandemic and political transition, we need to focus on the light. My messages throughout the season of Epiphany will proclaim The Light Shines in the Darkness. We begin this Sunday with the magnificent prologue to the gospel of John (1:1-14) which proclaims Jesus as the Divine Word and LIght that shines in the darkness, which the darkness has not and will not ever overcome.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
Dear St Andrew’s Members & Friends,
We have made it to the end of 2020 and we look forward with HOPE to the New Year. We hope that the covid vaccines beginning to be distributed will eventually end the “stay at home” shut downs and we will once again be able to freely gather, — with friends and family, with our church family, and even with strangers. How we look forward to that! We see light at the end of the tunnel.
But health experts warn that we still face many more months of hardship and death from this pandemic, so masks, social distancing, and stay at home restrictions are still needed. There is a shadow over our celebration of Christmas this year. So this is an opportune time to read the part of the Christmas story that we often avoid.
This Christmas season we have read Luke’s story of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, wrapped in bands of cloth and laid in a manger, greeted by humble shepherds, and Matthew’s story of the mysterious Magi from the East who followed the star and brought the newborn King gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. These parts of the story we have no trouble celebrating; we tell and retell them each year, Our children re-enact them in Christmas pageants and play with them in the mangers we decorate our homes with.
But we tend to stop with the Wise Men dropping off their gifts and heading back home. But Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus doesn’t end there. It takes a dark turn. My message for this first Sunday of the new year is A Shadow Over Christmas.(Mathew 2:13-23) and includes some very special music.
This first Sunday of the season of Christmas we continue the story of the first Christmas with Mathew’s account of the visit of the mysterious Magi who were guided to the Christ Child by the Christmas Star (Matthew 2:1-12).
This advent we have been pondering the true gifts of Christmas: hope, peace, joy, and love. All have their source in the gift we gratefully celebrate this week – the gift of the Christ Child. Sadly, because of the Covid 19 stay at home order due to surging cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, we are not able to gather in person for Christmas services this year. But your staff, worship committee, actors, and musicians have put together a video Christmas Eve service for you. It includes candle lighting, scripture readings, lots of special music, a Cornerstone drama, and my Christmas message The Gift of the Christ Child. We invite you to view it at whatever time works best for you and your family. A special thanks goes out to Mark Isham who edited this and all of our worship videos. “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12) Stay safe and well.
p.s. I will also record a video message for this Sunday, Dec. 27, on Matthew 2:13-23, titled A Shadow Over Christmas.
During this Advent season, in the midst of a deadly second wave of covid 19 cases that is forcing us all to “stay at home,” unable to freely gather, we are focusing on the true gifts of Christmas. Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. These are spiritual realities that you can’t buy in a store or order online. They are gifts we can only receive in faith and gratitude from God, our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. “And the greatest of these,” as the apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 13, “is LOVE.” So on this fourth Sunday in Advent, we will light a candle for LOVE as we remember with joy that “Love came down at Christmas.” Scriptures for my message, The Gift of Love, are Luke 1:30-35; Matthew 1:20-23; and 1 John 4:7-12.
2020 has been a tough year, and though there is light at the end of the tunnel with the emergency approval this week of the first covid vaccines, we still have some dark and challenging months ahead. Stay safe and well. On this third Sunday of Advent, in this year of the great pandemic, we light the candle of JOY. We light it in faith, trusting in the many promises of joy and invitations to rejoice found in our scriptures. This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it!
During this season of Advent we are pondering once again The True Gifts of Christmas: Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. We especially need each of these spiritual resources during this unusual and very challenging time of pandemic and political transition.
Last week we lit a candle for Hope. This second week of Advent we light a candle for PEACE. You can view my message above, The Gift of Peace (scriptures: Micah 4:1-4, Luke 1:78-79) with special music by David and Paul
Stay safe and sane as we enter another period under a restrictive Stay at Home order in the Bay area this Sunday evening at 10 p.m. until Jan 4 at least.
During the season of Advent which begins this year on Sunday November 29, we will ponder once again The True Gifts of Christmas: Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. We especially need each of these spiritual resources during this very challenging time of pandemic and political transition. We begin this Sunday with the precious gift of Hope. For our study together I invite you to read Psalm 130, Jeremiah 29:11, and Romans 15:13. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in faith so that you overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit.”