“O Star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright, westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect light.” (chorus of Epiphany hymn “We Three Kings of Orient Are”)
Epiphany: (Miriam Webster definition) “1. Church festival of the coming of the Magi to the Christ Child. 2. an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking. 3. an illuminating discovery, realization or disclosure.”
The Star leads to Bethlehem. The Magi (wise men) from the east following the star came to honor the infant Jesus, who by the time they arrived, was in a house, probably two years old. Herod, the Gospel of Matthew records, ascertained from the wise men the exact time they first saw the star. When Herod determined that he had been tricked by the wise men, because they did not come back to him saying where they found the child, he ordered all the children around Bethlehem who were two years old or under be killed, “according to the time he (Herod) learned the (wise men) astrologers had seen the star” (Matthew again). We celebrate the visit of the Magi (wise men) to Bethlehem on Epiphany, January 6, the twelfth day of Christmas. We are expecting to observe Epiphany in worship on Jan. 3, with the sacrament of Holy Communion.
In three congregations I have encouraged, and in fact removed, the wise men and their camels from manger scenes. Going back to visit those congregations at Christmas, or driving by their outdoor stable displays soon after I left as pastor, the wise men were back at the manger. That experience has been an awakening, an epiphany. The epiphany being “don’t mess with Christmas tradition, even if the tradition is not biblically accurate.”
- The donor(s) and workers who have winterized the outdoor pulpit. On Dec. 20, even with the 28-degree temperature, there were 26 cars in the parking lot, and at last look, 57 views of the service FRCB Facebook.
- Rev. Matt for setting up the recording of services when I have been the worship leader.
- Brian Clary and Rev. Matt for the recording and posting of indoor virtual services.
- Diane Kempf for accepting the office of Deacon.
- Mary Jane Brown, Rev. Matt and the Sunday School for the on-line virtual pageant. See it on FRCB Facebook, 135 views at last count.
- The many who sent Christmas greetings and presented to Eileen and me gifts of cookies, bread, and jelly plus more.
- The Consistory for a generous Christmas gift.
- Those who volunteer and support the ministry of the Venture Churches Food Pantry, housed at FRCB.
- All who remain faithful in worship attendance in the parking lot or on-line, and are loyal with contributions of time, talent, and treasure.
- The many others whose efforts make the ministries of FRCB real.