This is my first letter of the new year! I hope everyone had a chance to relax and enjoy family and friends over the holidays, in addition to thanking God for the gift of His Son, our Savior, and for the many blessings we have received.
You might notice some cars parked during the day in the northeast corner of our parking lot. As you know, Lutheran Home is doing major construction. In an effort to be good neighbors, we are allowing the construction workers to use our lot, which keeps them from having to park on residential streets. Other cars belong to Kingdom Prep High School.
This weekend we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, sometimes called the Feast of the Three Kings. The word “Epiphany” means “revelation.” Jesus had been revealed to the shepherds (representing Judaism) and is now revealed to the Magi (representing the rest of the world). The message: Jesus has come as a human being for ALL human beings.
I was reflecting that, as we read all the scriptures about the birth of Christ, we are presented with three distinct reactions: first there is the reaction of the worldly power, King Herod, who sees Him as a threat and murders numerous children in trying to eliminate Jesus. Then there are the religious leaders, who. knowing the scriptures and the prophecies about Bethlehem, simply dismiss what they are being told. Finally, there are the shepherds and the three kings, all outsiders, all considered unworthy and unclean by the religious leaders, who are in tune with what is being revealed to them and open their hearts to accept Him.
My first reaction is to thank God for the gift of faith that puts me with the third group. But perhaps a more growth producing response might be to acknowledge that I have all three reactions within me and the call is for me to diminish the first two and grow the third.
When I do something wrong, when I break the commandments, I am blocking or “killing” Jesus’ entry into the world. I am bringing darkness, rather than light. More often, for me, it is the second reaction of simply ignoring a chance to bring the light of Christ into the world: not spending time with the lonely; not reaching out to those rejected by society; not sharing my gifts of time, talent, and treasure with those in need; etc.
A new year is a time for making resolutions to improve ourselves. I invite us to reflect on how we can grow in our ability to bring Christ, the Light, into the world and make concrete resolutions to help us do so. And let us support each other in prayer.
-- Paul James Portland, SDS