Dear friends and family,
A belated “Happy New Year” to all. My life is a blur these days… something which most of you can relate to. I was hardly prepared for Christmas to arrive, and it’s already January 7th. I arrived home last night from Miami (Congrats again to Zak & Amanda, thanks to Razz & Izel and all at CC Miami) and awoke at 4:15am to take my bride, Kathleen Marie, to the airport to be with her Mom who has surgery (cancer-related) early next week. I leave again Monday to be with my Mom who is suffering from a brain tumor (also cancer-related). That said, I’m trying to catch my spiritual breath and to put things in perspective – which leads to the “musing” below. Please don’t disregard the following, but read on. A conversation I had with my sister Mary Ann confirmed that the Lord would have me to ‘put this out there.’ (and yes, I do compose this on my Droid 2, two thumbs at a time.) I begin with a familiar passage to launch my thoughts ~ “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him.” (Matthew 2:1-2)
For those of us not in a “Liturgical” frame of mind or reference, we likely don’t know or otherwise realize that the period in the church year that begins with January 6th and extends to Ash Wednesday, is known as “Epiphany” (a liturgical word meaning ‘an appearance or a manifestation of God’). Epiphany marks the time that the Christ child was revealed to the “Magi” who came from afar, bearing gifts and desiring to worship the newborn king. This was His first manifestation to the Gentiles as the Light of the whole world. It is generally believed (by many scholars and devotional writers) that the wise men from the East arrived some two years after the birth of Christ. Considering the earnestness of their search, the nature of their gifts and the sincerity of their worship – coupled together with their desire to return home to share with others what they had found in Jesus, this event has much to teach us. In many churches across the country, Epiphany is ushered in with a renewed commitment to evangelism and an interest in praying for and supporting foreign missions. But… it shouldn’t stop there! “Epiphany” should serve as a reminder to all of us that God not only desires our worship, but also our willingness to share His message with others. The ‘good news’ of the gospel message must be taken outside the walls of our church buildings… in fulfillment of God’s great commission to us. (see Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16)
Let me issue a challenge to you (and myself) for this new year… a new year already 1 week old; Here it is: That you (and me) would endeavor to lay hold of all the opportunities God brings across our paths each day, to share His love with the dark and rotting world around us… not merely in word, but also in deed.
Jesus said it this way ~ “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? (likewise) You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and not merely hear of your good intentions) and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:13-16, ESV; amplified & annotated by JFO)