Sunday, January 5, 2020

Thoughts on Epiphany and the God who Rests

During the month of January, our congregation participates in something we call Sabbath Month. Following the busyness of the Advent and Christmas Seasons and the rush and the hurry in which our culture participates in the time period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we choose to slow down, reconnect and remember we worship a God who calls us to rest.
We have much more informal services in which we talk and interact a lot more than we would. Each week we look at a passage about Sabbath Rest along with our sermon passage.
The "sermons" during Sabbath month are "interactive". For me this involves just as much study and prep but a lot less prepared words for me to say. I ask a lot of questions and see where we go with our discussions and follow where the Spirit leads.
If you are reading this please look at my notes, and contemplate the questions. Ask them of yourself, ask them of your friends.
I hope you will also find time to reconnect with your faith community, as well as with God.
Take time to

Matthew 2:1-12 - Epiphany a Light in the Darkness
Today is Epiphany Sunday, it begins the season of Epiphany.  What do you know about Epiphany as a Holy day of the Church?  What does it celebrate?  What is important about this celebration?  What are we celebrating or commemorating?  What is the Epiphany?
Questions I have as I read this:
Verse 1 – Who are these wise men?
Verse 3 – Why does this trouble Herod?  What do these words of the wisemen mean to Herod
Verse 3 – Why is all Jerusalem troubled as well?
Verses 7-8 – What does Herod’s actions say to the wisemen about his intentions?
Verse 10 – Why do they rejoice simply upon finding the place, before they even go in?
Verse 12 – What is with the gifts?
Gifts – These are actually typical gifts given to dignitaries.  The later two also had restorative and healing properties which would be useful. 
Theologians typically assign spiritual meaning: Gold – kingship, Frankincense – priestly, Myrrh – to point to his death
This is the time of the year when we experience the most darkness. Even as our days get longer, most of that light is added at the beginning of the day, when we are first waking, meanwhile most of us come home in the darkness of early night. 5 or 6pm can feel like 8 or 9. When my Dr. first told me to start taking Vit D in the Winter months, she told me, we live in New England, we are all Vit D (Sun) deprived in the winter. There simply is not enough sunlight to make our bodies happy. This cold dark time of the year, is the perfect time of the year to think about the Magi and their star. These are men who work in the darkness. Astrologers, need to do their work at night in order to “read” the stars and understand their movements. The magi were men who were accustomed to darkness?
What role does darkness play in the story?
What do you think about when you think about darkness?
Have you ever felt like you were in the dark?
What do you think it means to be people who are accustomed to darkness?
How were the magi accustomed to darkness?
In what ways are we accustomed to darkness?
Is it easy to find what you are looking for in the dark?
What do the magi see in the dark? What do they find? How do they find it?
Epiphany means to reveal something.  An epiphany is what you have when a new fact is revealed to you.   This passage is the primary Gospel Epiphany passage. 
What is revealed to them in the dark?
Who or what is revealed here?
What can we learn about darkness?
What can we do when we are in the dark?
How do we allow Christ to be revealed to us, when we are in the dark?
            What is the Epiphany we have revealed to us today?

Genesis 2:1-4 - The God Who Rests

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude.  And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.
These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

What does it mean for God to rest?
Why do you think God rests here in Genesis? Is God tired?
What is the purpose of rest? for God? For us?
What can we do to rest? How can we include practices of rest into our "everyday lives"?

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