|Christ candle & the cross at Stafford United Methodist Church|
When we are in darkness
Christ is our light.
When we are in despair,
Christ is our hope.
When we are grieving,
Christ is our comfort.
When we are anxious,
Christ is calm assurance.
For all people gathered in this place,
Christ is for us; let us offer our gifts and praise.
(Our call to worship from Epiphany Sunday, January 5, 2014)
This time of year is always a little sad to me. Just this past Friday, I unhooked the stockings from the mantle. I unplugged the multi-colored lights from the tree and undraped the lighted garland from the grandfather clock. I nestled the angel from the top of the tree in a shoebox, and Randy toted the packed-to-the-brim plastic tubs to the basement, where they will be stowed away for the next 11 months or so.
But, no, it shouldn't be that way. While I pack away the bright lights and ornaments of the Christmas season, I shouldn't pack away the truth of Emmanuel: God With Us.
"Three Gentile star worshipers show up at the home of a good Jewish family. That is the last thing anyone would expect to happen," Pastor Ben told us in his sermon. "But it shows us that Christ's glory was not just for the Jewish nation but for all nations. ... They kneeled and paid him homage as a symbol of reverence, obedience, submission and an offering up of themselves.
On Sunday, we had communion during the service. And I thought about how fitting that was, too. Because the story doesn't end with the Child. It doesn't end with the cross. Instead, it is Emmanuel: God With Us - yesterday, today and tomorrow. Before we come forward for communion, Pastor Ben says these words from St. Augustine: "Behold what you are; become what we receive."
Today, we again receive the Light of the World.
God of all glory, by the light of a star you led the wise to worship the Christ. By the light of faith lead me to your glory in heaven. Make me wise enough to wonder; make me wise enough to ask why; make me wise enough to search. Give me your wisdom. Give me your light. Give me your Christ, in whose name I pray. Amen.
(Our offering prayer for January 5, 2014)
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