A short time ago, in a recent sermon, I got onto the theme of our Christian identity. More than once I used the phrase “who are you?”
Now when I do this, a certain song gets stuck in my head and I find myself singing “who are you” to myself for the rest of the day. On a day when I asked you to consider your Christian identity, it’s also a good idea that I spend some time doing the same thing. And the song stays with me while I think about that.
Now as we turn the corner from January into February our meditation will change from who to how. How are we to live out that identity, given to us at baptism? Helping us this month will be the words of Jesus from Matthew’s version of the Sermon on the Mount.
For three of the four weeks of February we will hear that we can keep God’s commandments, do good things for people, go beyond the expectations of conventional charity, and to respond to evil with love and forgiveness. All of these ideas come to us from our Lord.
A long Epiphany season is helpful for us to dig deeper into how we will live out our calling as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Through our worship, and a lot of time spent in prayer, we can be prepared for our life of service, sharing Jesus’ love in word and deed. And it will help prepare us for the next season, Lent. More on that next month.
Clifton D. Eshbach,
Midweek Services at noon and 7:00 p.m.
Plan your worship schedule for Lent
by participating in the mid-week services of Holy Communion
March 12, 19 & 26 and April 2 & 9
At noon and 7:00 p.m.
The Sermon series this season is on
“The Question of Jesus”
February 9: “I’m Getting Older Now”
Definitely a program for all ages. Leading us this day is the Rev. Roger Bucy, Board Certified Chaplain and Director of Church Relations for Luthercare. Whether you are a senior citizen, or planning to be one in the next few decades, you will want to hear his presentation regarding issues that are being faced by the senior community.
February 16: Camp Sunday!
2014 is going to be a big year at our Lutheran camps. Hear what’s planned for summer camp this year as well as camping and retreat programs for all ages. Joining us is Sister Marianne Brock, ELCA Deaconess and the director of Camp Nawakwa. If you need a question to ask her, use this one: “Why do so many adult leaders in the church have a background in Lutheran outdoor ministries?”
February 23: Suburban Poverty Close to Home
It’s closer than we think. As we meditate on the words of Jesus to bring good news to the poor, we will get some firsthand examples of local poverty from Joy Meeley and Deb Meckley, social workers for the Penn Manor School District. They will speak to us on what poverty looks like here in the suburbs, how it affects families and how we can respond to it. This is a worthy issue to take in as we approach the season of Lent.
The first day of the year is known by several titles. The most obvious, of course, is January first. The next most obvious is the name “New Years Day.” In the church, the first day of the year is also the 8th day of Christmas (Eight Maids a Milking – a reminder of the eight beatitudes). And it is also a festival known either as the Circumcision of Jesus or the Name of Jesus. It remembers the time when Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the temple for circumcision and the declaration of his name. This event can be found in St. Luke 2: 21-38.
The naming of Jesus, while an established Jewish liturgical event, was also a public event. His name was spoken out loud by Mary and Joseph. In Luke’s account the man Simeon proclaimed that Jesus is the one who is a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for the glory of Israel. And the prophet Anna praised God, to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
Now, in this new year, make it a point…resolve if you wish…for you also to speak the name of Jesus publicly. Make it a point to share how the name of Jesus helps you, speaks to you, saves you from the power of sin and death. Make it a point to share the name of Jesus and how it is proclaimed and worshiped at Holy Spirit. Make it a point to share the name of Jesus through your witness, service and stewardship.
Let us all resolve to live, act and bear witness in the name of Jesus, sharing his love in word and deed. By this mission may this congregation be known to all who encounter it.
Advent and Christmas, prepare us, inspire us and unite us in order to be more faithful disciples; better equipped for the future, and better prepared to serve our world.
I suppose I could use this space this month to lament about the over commercialism of Christmas (saw my first Christmas shopping commercial before Halloween this year). Or I could use the space to chide those who think Advent is not very necessary and gets in the way of “my” Christmas (remember it’s not your Christmas, it’s Christ’s).
No, I don’t think I’ll do that this year (unless I already did!). Instead I think it is necessary for us to see that these two unique seasons, Advent and Christmas, prepare us, inspire us and unite us in order to be more faithful disciples; better equipped for the future, and better prepared to serve our world.
Advent is a season to prepare and also to reflect upon the majestic work of God in our lives and how God’s love for us leads into God’s greatest act of love, providing a Savior to all of humanity. During the four weeks we intentionally take the time to meditate on this gift of God, and yes, prepare to celebrate the arrival of this gift.
Christmas allows us to share with the world the good news of great joy of the birth of Christ just as it was first announced to the shepherds. As I have mentioned in previous newsletters, now is the best time for us to invite and to include our neighbors and friends into the fellowship at Holy Spirit, so that Christ’s love may be shared and together we head out upon the road of service and witness.
Barb and I are excited about spending our first Advent and Christmas at Holy Spirit. Let us pray for the Spirit’s guidance as we actively prepare and celebrate like those shepherds, by sharing this good news with everyone we meet, and inviting them to be with us to be part of the heavenly hosts singing praises about the arrival of the Savior!
CLIFTON D. ESHBACH