Last Sunday was the Feast of the Epiphany, which in Western churches often focuses on the journey of the magi, sometimes known as the "three kings" -- though there's no hard evidence the magi were kings. More likely they were astronomer-priests from the Parthian empire. The visit of the magi was hugely important -- no matter their status in society or their line of work -- because they were the first Gentiles to see Jesus. They are the first of many signs that in Christ, God came for all people, not just some. There are no outsiders, no outcasts in the kingdom of God.
Some churches, including the Episcopal Church, celebrate an entire season of Epiphany. I like this season (have you noticed that I like all liturgical seasons?) because it's about light -- the light that enlightens the nations, Christ. Epiphany is about how Christmas goes beyond the birth of Christ, and God in man becomes manifest to the world. On a more individual level, it's about how that light comes to live in our own hearts, how Christmas becomes a part of us. We don't have to be someone special -- a king or an astonomer-priest -- to have our own epiphanies, our own experiences of coming to know the Christ child.
The earliest recorded celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany took place in Egypt at the end of the second century. It commemorated three things: 1) The Visit of the Magi to the stable in Bethlehem, 2) Jesus’ baptism as an adult in the Jordan River and 3) the wedding at Cana, where Jesus turns water into wine. These three events from Scripture were all celebrated on the Feast of Epiphany, because they were all understood as signs that God had appeared in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
This Sunday at Reconciler we celebrate Jesus' baptism. We will start our worship at the font, recalling the life-giving nature of water and its role in our faith tradition, and offering special prayers.
It's good for us to reclaim the primary nature of Epiphany, and not think of it as just the period after Christmas. The Christ child would be real whether anyone outside his family or tribe saw him, but it is the manifestation to the wise men and all who subsequently have come to know him, that has changed and continues to change the world.
See you Sunday!
In Christ's love,
The Rev. Laura Gottardi-Littell
The Pastoral Team
The Church of Jesus Christ, Reconciler
Professor Douglas Sharp of Northern Baptist Seminary will be our Baptist guest preacher on Sunday January 13th.
The Rev. Doug Harris of North Shore Baptist Church will be presiding at communion on Sunday January 27th.
The Rev. Jolene Bergstrom-Carlson, Associate Superintendent of the Central Conference in the Evangelical Covenant Church, will be our guest for worship on January 20th.
Our Annual Meeting is coming up on Sunday, January 27th. We plan to gather at 2:00 p.m. for a potluck and meeting, then will worship at 5:00. Please mark your calendar and plan to attend this important every-member meeting!!
On February 2nd, a new Episcopal bishop will be consecrated for the Diocese of Chicago. The Rev. Jeffrey Lee will officially become our new bishop. The consecration will take place at the House of Hope Arena in Chicago’s Pullman district (Far South Side). The original time of 11 am has been changed to 1 pm. If you would like to attend the consecration, please talk with Laura.