Final Thoughts: Epiphany

Screenshot 2018-01-09 at 2.57.29 PMMany Christians celebrate Epiphany on the Sunday after January 6th. Sometimes my mind makes connections between things that others may have thought unrelated. Maybe we all do that, working in what some describe as thought webs, but I’m about to submit one such thought for your consideration.

Matthew 2:1-12 is the Gospel account of the wise men’s visit. Ephesians 2:11-21 describes how all believers are one in Christ. Verse 17 in particular says that Jesus has preached peace to those that were far away and those that were near. Consider how the Christmas narrative illustrates that point. Continue reading

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Epiphany

wise men, magi, epiphanyIf you’ve ever heard someone say they’ve had an epiphany, what they mean is that they have discovered something unexpected. It happens suddenly, not over a period of time, and the revelation must of be something of great worth. The January 6th Epiphany on the Christian calendar commemorates the day the wise men discovered Jesus. Epiphany is the celebration of finding something worth finding. 

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. Matthew 2:10-11

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What About The 12 Days of Christmas?

12 daysThe American culture is very young.  We think of things like baseball and the Fourth of July as being ancient traditions, because our country has barely existed for more than 200 years.  Our Christmas celebrations and even our American Santa Claus are also rather new compared to European traditions.  If the Roman Catholic Church were a human adult, then the SBC would still be in diapers.

Many European cultures, including those of Eastern orthodox faith, celebrate Christmas from December 25 until the January 6 day of Epiphany.  The real season continues until February 2, ending in a celebration known as Candlemas which celebrates Jesus’ presentation at the temple.  In America, our celebration begins earlier and earlier each year as retailers attempt to get their merchandise moving and improve their bottom line for the quarter.  The idea that the birth of Christ is the beginning of the season, rather than the end of it, would be unusual here.

What about the song?

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Christians and Santa Claus

I opened the floor for comments on Santa and got them.  I didn’t go out looking for it, but ran across this sermon outline.  If you’re looking for a scriptural basis that Santa is from Satan, well there it is.  And now for my bit.

Christmas – It’s worth noting to begin with that not all Christians celebrate Christmas.  The Christ mass is Roman Catholic in origin, which is enough to cause some Protestants to avoid it.  Eastern Orthodoxy originally celebrated the day in January, and few countries using the Julian calendar (such as Ethiopia and Russia) still do.  Many of the traditions are clearly not Christian, and some speculate (the history is uncertain) that the December 25th date corresponds to the winter solstice and pagan celebrations.  Tree decorating really was a pagan element that Christians “borrowed” for their own celebration.  The argument can also be made that there is no scriptural command to celebrate Christ’s birth.  Jesus said “This do in remembrance of me” at the Last Supper, but after his birth is recorded in the Gospels there is really no further mention of it.  Only two Gospels record the birth of Christ, Matthew and Luke, but all four record his death, burial and resurrection.  The incarnation is fundamental to Christian theology, but celebrating Jesus’ birth is not. Continue reading

The End of Advent: Lighting the Christ Candle

The Christ candle is traditionally lit during either a Christmas Eve service or perhaps on Christmas Day.  Christmas just happens to be on Sunday this year.  What ever you do this weekend is fine with me as long as you remember that Christ is the gift and God is in the manger.

Today is Christmas Eve, the last day of Advent.  Tomorrow is Christmas, the first of the 12 days of Christmas, which culminates in Epiphany.  An epiphany is a great discovery or revelation of prolific truth.  The January 6th Epiphany celebrates the wise men finding Jesus.

Advent is the season of waiting and preparation.  If we’re being technically correct in our worship (and I’m not one that cares as much as some do) we should have been singing Advent hymns up to this point, such as O Come Emanuel.  It is now time to sing Joy to the World, proclaiming that the Lord is come.

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

(Luke 2:10-14 ESV)

Things Change: A Sermon on Epiphany

Today is January 2nd, and we are nearing the end of Christmastide or the Twelve Days of Christmas.  Western Christians (i.e. Roman Catholics and most Protestant faiths) celebrate Epiphany on January 6th.  Let’s continue to celebrate the birth of Jesus by recognizing that when Jesus arrives, thing change.

Colossians 1:15-20 is a short passage that describes who and what Jesus is.  While the following sermon does not provide exegesis of these verses, they describe not only the incarnation but also the purpose of it.  The birth of Jesus is the meeting of heaven and earth; it changes everything.  Let’s start simple and work our way up. Continue reading