Epiphany Thoughts

Epiphany is being able to step back and see how all the puzzle pieces that have already been put into place form the picture–and realize what the picture makes. It doesn’t change the picture, it just allows you to understand the picture better!


That’s why, when big changes happen, a good thing to do is to go back to the things you know for sure: identity, facts, spiritual disciplines.


And of course, in the story of the Magi, the answer is Jesus! Same for John the Baptist and the Shepherds! And each of them figured it out by doing what they do best–studying the stars, baptizing and preaching, tending the sheep, etc. For the Magi, its a good news picture, for Herod, not so much. But when they look at the pieces of the puzzle and they go back and look at it, they realize, the answer is Jesus!


As we enter this year after 20 months of Monumental changes–people moving, changing jobs, retiring and dying. And all of these changes are happening on a huge global level, we can be pretty sure that humanity is ripe for an Epiphany, we are about to discover some things about ourselves.


So, now is a good time to hone in on the basics–who are we? what do we love? what are our spiritual practices?


So when we are finally able to step back and see how the puzzle pieces fit together, we are well grounded for that moment of epiphany.


All right, let’s go 2022. Let’s get ready for our Epiphany.

Blessings for a Gentle Holiday (full text)

Blessings for a Gentle Holiday

May you have a gentle Holiday

Full of kindness, and understanding

and moments of warmth and coziness.

May you have a holiday with enough space and time

to be alone or together

to weep or sigh

to remember…

***

May your holiday give you the kind of rest you need

with reading or physical activity or doing nothing

or to do the crafting or peopling or not peopling

or sleeping or creating or not knowing

or caring…

whatever it is that you need to do,

or not!

***

May you have a gentle holiday

with the permission you need to not have to be “Merry”

but to be your full authentic self,

and to be kind to yourself, your boundaries, and those you love.

This is both my blessing and my prayer for you this season.

Amen.

What is Sacred, Christmas Prayer

No photo description available.

God I approach this Christmas season

with some trepidation,

and a lot of fear and trembling.

Because I don’t know if I really

understood before,

what was really sacred,

before now.

All the pomp and circumstance of Christmas

lies by the wayside now, like crumpled wrapping paper.

After all, we are not here to impress anybody.

What is left, is the Christ Candle,

burning the conviction into our hearts,

that life is sacred,

precisely because it is all so

unique and beautiful and brief.

The fact that a young girl, a shepherd and a magi

could each magnify God

in their own,

and yet important way

makes me want to cry

silent tears

at the magnitude of the meaning of Christmas

So here we are…

Fill us up,

with what Christmas

means for each of this year

Reminding us

that God sent a baby

in a manger

for each and every one of us

and God values us–

enough to send

babies and angels

and teachers and doctors and nurses

and vaccines and masks

and phone calls and cards

and candles and stars

and every other symbol that we need to remind us

that we are beloved.

And that we are here to fill the world with love

any way we can,

because that is the Christmas miracle

turning emptiness into something else.

Let us Go, and be comforted by the Love of God.

May God Bless you

and Keep you

in Belovedness–

wrapped in the miracle

that God is here.

Amen.

Always, forever,

God is even now. Here.

Alleluia.

Amen.

Feel free to use/share/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

More Advent/Christmas Resource

Christmas Eve Readings

First Lesson Luke 1:26-31, 2:1-5 26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ 29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.

Second Lesson John 3:16-17 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. ‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Third Lesson Luke 2:5-7 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Fourth Lesson Luke 2:16-20 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’

Fifth Lesson Luke 2:16-20 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

 Sixth Lesson Matthew 2: 1-3,7-12 In 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. Then 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.’ When 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. On 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.

Seventh Lesson Luke 2:13-14 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’

Eighth Lesson Luke 1:46-55 46 And Mary said,‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
47   and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48 for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
   Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
   and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
   from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
   he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
   and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
   and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
   in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
   to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

Advent Day 13

For the yoke of their burden, & the bar across their shoulder, the rod of their oppressor you have broken as the day of Midian—Isaiah 9:4

Advent Day 12

God’s mercy is for those who fear God from generation to generation, for God scatters the proud in their thoughts and heart—Luke 1:51

Blue Christmas/Comfort Candle Virtual Service

This is a Meditative Worship for those who need Comfort over the Christmas Season. It may take place at anytime, even in place of Christmas Eve if service if that is (perhaps) too painful for you this year. You can do this without any supplies or with candle(s) to light. (If you have an Advent Wreath you may wish to light it up to the week you are at and add a Comfort candle)

***

A Prayer For an Empty Advent:

God,

I’m reminded again 

that it’s ok that Advent 

is empty

Wasn’t Mary’s Magnificat

about filling up the empty

with Good things!

Weren’t the Angels Sent

to gift the silent world

with Holy Songs?

Wasn’t the whole and entire point?

To fill the world a little more with the love of God. 

To put Jesus physically, right here on Earth!

God, remind us that it’s not only ok, but traditional to feel empty at Advent.

And if we are trudging, the long trudge, especially this year, 

please send the Holy Spirit to trudge with us we pray.

And to remind us, it’s ok if Advent feels empty this year.

Amen

Picture Thanks to Rev. Erin A. Jacobson

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, A Song about Trudging through Life, especially verse 2

God, for those of us who haven’t felt like putting up a tree,

or hanging garlands–those of us who have only half heartedly decorated

Or not decorated at all–

It’s ok. We can blue, and sad.

You don’t need any festooning.

You don’t need any bells or whistles.

You are God.

Present in the very midst of Sorrow–

Isn’t that why we light the candles? Because sometime we need the reminders

that you are present, especially when we cannot see Hope, Peace, Joy or Love in the World?

That’s why today we are lighting an extra candle in our hearts. The candle of Comfort. For you–Wonderful Counselor, promise that with Christ too.

Amen

Picture Thanks to Rev Erin A. Jacobson
Reading of Isaiah 40:1, Isaiah 55:1,11

Isaiah 40: 1, 55: 1, 11

Comfort, O comfort my people,
   says your God.

Ho, everyone who thirsts,
   come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
   come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
   without money and without price. 

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
   it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
   and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Comfort Ye My People

Comfort Ye My People from “The Messiah”

Magnificat Remixed

Magnificat Remix: (Based on Luke 1:46-55)

Holy is our God, How Holy is our God that we are able to Magnify Xem in our tiny acts?

God’s Mercy is plentiful, bringing comfort to generation upon generation.

Scattering those who think they have power, and empowering those feel emptied out!

God always, always remembers God’s promises.

God sends the rich away hungry, and fills the hungry with good things.

God brings those who sits on thrones down, and lifts up those who are low in spirit.

This is the God we worship and love, the God, wonderful Counselor, the Abundant God, the Guardian of Peace.

This is our comfort, Fill us up God, especially when we feel desolate, we pray.

Amen.

Lighting of the Comfort Candle Candle (if you chose you may light a candle at home)

Candle Lit GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Closing Prayer: Christ be with me,
Christ within me,
Christ behind me,
Christ before me,
Christ beside me,
Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ be with me. Amen*

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen Low Bass Cover

Benediction: May you make it through this Christmas knowing there are no requirements. Instead, may God Console and Comfort You and may Christ’s Peace be with you. Amen.

Picture Thanks to Rev. A. Erin Jacobson

***

My Thanks to Rev. Dr. Barb Hedges-Goettl and Rev. Marie O’Connell for the inspiration for this Virtual Worship and Rev. Erin A Jacobson for contributing the images

*Prayer adapted from http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/St._Patrick’s_Breastplate

More Advent Resources Here

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(Special Thanks for the donated Images from Rev Erin Jacobson)


Shannon A Thompson

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