SHEPHERDSTOWN LUTHERAN PARISH the PIPER monthly, January 4, 2018
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Christmas season is drawing to a close. We have sung the carols; we have heard the stories; we have sat in wonder in the candlelight as we reflected on Luke’s story of the birth of Jesus.
January 6 is Epiphany or Three Kings Day. It is the day we remember this text from Matthew, chapter 2:
1In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” 3When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; …
7Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” 9When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
Isn’t it interesting that these foreigners traveled so far to seek the child? We take this story for granted and we really don’t think too much about it. We have inserted these characters into Luke’s story and we put them in the crèche with the shepherds and the animals. But you can read for yourself that Matthew’s story has no shepherds… it is a different story entirely. Matthew’s audience was a Jewish community. They would have been surprised that these foreigners came from far off exotic places all the way to little Bethlehem. Maybe even more surprising is HOW they got there! Their GPS was a star! They were astrologers-scientists, not kings as the song tells us! And it was their science, their study and research, which led them to the God-in-the-flesh-boy.
This is the story of the incarnation according to Matthew. God became flesh and dwelt among the refugees and became a refugee seeking sanctuary, fleeing from a violent, oppressive ruler. And the first to know about it were the foreign star-gazers. They first went to Jerusalem because it made sense to them that a king would be born in that city where the rich and powerful resided, but he was not there. It is easy to get sidetracked by what we think we know. Their assumption side tracked them momentarily, but they got redirected toward Bethlehem, and there was the star, showing them the way to the child.
Isn’t it interesting how God works? We tend to want to think that God does things the way we would do things. We tend to want to limit God’s grace. Jesus was born into a culture that had very clear parameters on God’s acceptance. Some people were inside of God’s circle and some people were outside of that circle. There were also very defined methods through which one could gain forgiveness and acceptance. There were very defined ways through which one could gain access to God.
Then God became flesh and dwelt among us. Outsiders came to bring him gifts and to kneel down to worship him. They came to him, not through accepted religious ritual, but through a star.
Our Christian culture is not all that different from that 1st century Jewish culture in its self-understanding. We think we know who is in … and who is out, who is acceptable and who is not. We tend to think that the way we gain access to the divine is the only way to gain access to the divine.
God became flesh and dwelt among us.
Where is the Christ child in our world today? Who are the magi? Where are the stars, the beams of light that lead to God?
Star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright;
Westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect light!
May the light of Christ lead you and fill you with peace,
New Bible Study to begin January 17!
Wednesday evenings, 6:30 at St James: Manna and Mercy
Using Daniel Erlander’s book, Manna and Mercy: A Brief History of God’s Unfolding Promise to Mend the Entire Universe, we will get an overview of the whole biblical narrative. We are certain to learn a lot and have great discussion! Join us!
Books are $9 each. Please call the office or comment on Facebook if you want a copy! I highly recommend it!
Synod Assembly 2018 will be in Shepherdstown! If you would like to be a part of the hosting committee, please speak to Pr Karen. We will have a committee meeting on January 28 at 2:00 at St Peter’s.
The sign-up book is on the back table for Worship Assistants, Altar Guild and Altar Flowers. These are important to our worship environment, so please consider helping in one way or another. Please sign-up in the book or call Debbie DeLauney at 304-876-3012 or e-mail her at email@example.com
Attention all Parish women!
St. Peter’s WELCA is sponsoring a Ladies Night Out social on Tuesday, January 9th at 6:30 pm at the Town Run Tap Room and Community Center. This will be a fun and casual night out We’ll get to know each other and play some Trivia too. It’s your choice whether you want to have dinner there or just come for a beverage. Please join us. If you need a ride or have questions, call Gail
Happy New Year to All…and thank you to those who assisted in worship in 2017 as an usher. I am starting to work on our usher sign-ups for this new year. Please consider giving your time. There is a sign up sheet on the bulletin board, you can tell me in person or email. firstname.lastname@example.org
The Book Club
Currently the group is reading Beneath a Scarlet Sky: a Novel, by Mark Sullivan. This is a work of fiction, based on a true story and it’s an easy and interesting read! I highly recommend this one and there are several moral issues that should lead to an interesting discussion. The next meeting will be at Gail’s home near the end of January.
Welcome St. James’ New Choir Members
We are excited to announce and welcome 2 new choir members, Don Whetstone and Kathy Sholl. We thank our faithful members who sing and make beautiful music every week- Adam, Karen, Debbie, Lilli, Larry and Pastor Karen.
Thank you Betty for leading and offering beautiful music!
Twelfth Night Open House
Please join us as we close out the holiday season with one last party!
Friday, January 5, 2018 from 5:00-9:00
At the Erskine-Valentine home,
Shepherdstown Lutheran Parish
Pastor Karen Erskine-Valentine email@example.com 304-676-9974