January 1, 2016 – The mystery of Christ

Epiphany Sunday   January 1, 2017  Psalm 72, Isaiah 60:1-6, Ephesians 3:1-6, Matthew 2:1-12 The mystery of Christ **************************************************** Who are these mysterious Magi from the East, who come following a star? Seeking a newborn king… Coming to pay him homage… Who are these mysterious travelers? We really don’t know, but… One solidly conservative bible commentary nicknames this episode “The Original Star Trek…” Which has me re-imagining the Magi – as time-traveling Captain Kirk, Spock and company, coming to Jesus, saying “Live long and prosper.” And to everyday people of Bethlehem, these Magi may indeed seem almost as strange as visitors from outer space… Who are these guys? The term Magi can cover a wide range of activities, including astrology – which, in those days, was a blend of simple astronomy and what we now call astrology. (These guys had to be serious sky watchers to pick up and follow the star successfully. These were obviously not just casual horoscope readers.) Scholars guess they may have been Zoroastrian priests. Dream interpretation and wisdom teaching may have also been part of their job description. These are good guesses – but we really don’t know – because the gospel doesn’t tell us… But… we do know the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh they bring are expensive. So probably they are wealthy. Quite possibly they have servants and body guards with them. Perhaps they are members of the royal court in their home country. (They seem unfazed in King Herod’s presence when summoned by him.) We don’t know what country or countries they come from – except they’re from the East. Most scholars guess they’re from Persia… Though again this is only an educated guess. Contrary to one of our songs today, nothing in the gospel indicates there’s three of them, or that they’re kings. The guess that they may be kings comes mostly from two of our other readings today, Psalm 72, which speaks of Kings of Sheba and Seba bringing gifts, including gold. (We might remember also the Queen of Sheba, who came to visit Solomon, back in 1st Kings 10, bringing gifts of gold and incense…) Isaiah 60 also speaks of kings bearing gifts of gold and frankincense, proclaiming the praise of the Lord…coming to the light of a redeemed Israel, with a multitude of camels… But again – there’s nothing in Matthew’s gospel naming the Magi as kings… What we know from scripture is that the Magi come into Jerusalem, asking directions, seeking to find the king of the Jews, saying, “for we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” We also know the news of this royal child brings – not joy – but great fear – in Jerusalem. Fear, predictably, for King Herod, who is intensely jealous of his royal privilege as top dog in the nation. Fear, also, though, for all Jerusalem. (Unexpected change often elevates anxieties… even when we know we ought to be open to changes that might bring us joy…) But Herod is not into joy. Herod is into power. He summons the chief priests and scribes of Jerusalem, asking where the Messiah (the “anointed one”) is to be born. The religious leaders point to Micah 5, which points to Bethlehem, home town of King David,...

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Week of January 1, 2017 – Bourne

THIS WEEK IN THE LIFE OF THE PARISH Sunday, Jan. 1st: 11:00 AM Worship Thursday, Jan. 5th: 1:00 PM Bible Study at Bourne UMC Saturday, Jan. 7th: 9:30 AM Children’s Clothing Exchange Sunday, Jan. 8th: 11:00 AM Worship Monday, Jan. 9th: 7:00 PM Worship Committee Meeting CHILDREN’S CLOTHING EXCHANGE: We continue to accept gently used warm winter children’s clothes, sizes 0-14, which may be dropped off at the Thrift Shop or in the church hall. The exchange is open the first Saturday of each month from 9:30am to 12pm. BACKPACK PROJECT: These items are urgently needed: Cereal-cold, any kind, Oatmeal packets, Jelly, Mayonnaise, Canned tuna, Canned chicken, Canned pasta with meat-raviolis, lasagna, spaghetti with meatballs, Hot cocoa and Microwave popcorn. A complete list is available in Crain Hall. THE JANUARY/FEBRUARY NEWSLETTER DEADLINE is Tuesday, January 24th. Please have any articles, dates or information you would like to be included into the church office by 9am that morning. Thank you!  ...

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