SATURDAY, DECEMBER 31ST —
New Years Eve -
Have a reasonably good time!
SUNDAY, JANUARY 1, 2012 —
NEW YEARS DAY • • • EPIPHANY SUNDAY
Isaiah offers a word from the Lord to exiles or
new returnees to their homeland after at least a
39-year absence. They knew to expect ruins on
their return, and that is exactly what they had
found. Thick darkness (verse 2) in the world
they knew; in their ruined homeland and their
destroyed capital, Jerusalem. The prophet
declares the coming of the glory of the Lord
into this atmosphere. Not long after the Judeans
were set free to return to their homeland, the
new Persian government sent orders to have
supplies and building materials sent to rebuild
and furnish the city and its temple. Among these
materials were gold and frankincense
(Isaiah 60:6). Isaiah reminded the returned exiles
that if they watched, they would see other
nations bringing camels, gold, and frankincense
1 "Get out of bed, Jerusalem! Wake up. Put your
face in the sunlight. God's bright glory has risen for
2 The whole earth is wrapped in darkness, all
people sunk in deep darkness, But God rises on
you, his sunrise glory breaks over you.
3 Nations will come to your light, kings to your
4 Look up! Look around! Watch as they gather,
watch as they approach you: Your sons coming
from great distances, your daughters carried by
5 When you see them coming you'll smile - big
smiles! Your heart will swell and, yes, burst! All
those people returning by sea for the reunion, a
rich harvest of exiles gathered in from the nations!6 And then streams of camel caravans as far as
the eye can see, young camels of nomads in Midian
and Ephah, Pouring in from the south from Sheba,
loaded with gold and frankincense, preaching the
praises of God.———————————————————————
PSALM 72:1-7, 10-14 (UMH 795)
1 Give the gift of wise rule to the king, O God, the
gift of just rule to the crown prince.
2 May he judge your people rightly, be honorable
to your meek and lowly.
3 Let the mountains give exuberant witness; shape
the hills with the contours of right living.
4 Please stand up for the poor, help the children of
the needy, come down hard on the cruel tyrants.
5 Outlast the sun, outlive the moon - age after age
6 Be rainfall on cut grass, earth-refreshing rain
7 Let righteousness burst into blossom and peace
abound until the moon fades to nothing.
10 Kings remote and legendary will pay homage,
kings rich and resplendent will turn over their wealth.
11 All kings will fall down and worship, and
godless nations sign up to serve him,
12 Because he rescues the poor at the first sign
of need, the destitute who have run out of luck.
13 He opens a place in his heart for the down and
out, he restores the wretched of the earth.
14 He frees them from tyranny and torture - when
they bleed, he bleeds; when they die, he dies.
It was typically evangelism that got Paul locked
away. And being locked away, Paul never
stopped evangelizing about God's kingdom and
Jesus Christ to everyone he could, even to the
point, reaching the whole imperial guard in Rome.
That is part of what Paul refers to here when he
speaks of the mystery of the gospel now being
made known to "rulers and authorities in
1 This is why I, Paul, am in jail for Christ, having
taken up the cause of you outsiders, so-called.
2 I take it that you're familiar with the part I was
given in God's plan for including everybody.
3 I got the inside story on this from God himself,
as I just wrote you in brief.4 As you read over what I have written to you,
you'll be able to see for yourselves into the mystery
5 None of our ancestors understood this. Only in our
time has it been made clear by God's Spirit through
his holy apostles and prophets of this new order.
6 The mystery is that people who have never heard
of God and those who have heard of him all their
lives (what I've been calling outsiders and insiders)
stand on the same ground before God. They get the
same offer, same help, same promises in Christ
Jesus. The Message is accessible and welcoming
to everyone, across the board.
7 This is my life work: helping people understand
and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer
gift to me, a real surprise,
God handling all the details.
8 When it came to presenting the Message to
people who had no background in God's way, I
was the least qualified of any of the available
Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but
you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my
9 My task is to bring out in the open and make
plain what God, who created all this in the first place,
has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all
10 Through Christians like yourselves gathered in
churches, this extraordinary plan of God is
becoming known and talked about even among
11 All this is proceeding along lines planned all
along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus.
12 When we trust in him, we're free to say
whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever
we need to go.
We see the three kings, their gifts, and perhaps
the use of incense.
• In the midst of our own economic freefall,
impending threats of global climate change,
and the ongoing uncertainties about the price
and availability of energy sources, we may hear
and experience this story in ways that take
seriously the notion of threat and subversion
that were clearly part of its first tellings. Iraqi
or Iranian astrologers would not normally go
waltzing into Jerusalem looking for a newborn
child destined to become the new ruler of that
nation. Matters of state like this would usually
have been handled by an official delegation
working through all the "right" channels. What
these men did in Jerusalem was bound to draw
suspicion from the powers that be.
• What we know of Herod we know primarily
from a historian (Josephus) who did not like
him, as well as from testimony in Matthew.
Herod was, by their testimony, insecure,
paranoid, and ready to act violently if he felt
threatened. Herod is a maniacal figure and a
stand-in for powers of the world that deny
access to truth they don't want accessed, and
then try to spin the truth, if it is discovered.
1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem village, Judah
territory - this was during Herod's kingship - a band of
scholars arrived in Jerusalem from the East.
2 They asked around, "Where can we find and pay
homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We
observed a star in the eastern sky that signaled his
birth. We're on pilgrimage to worship him."
3 When word of their inquiry got to Herod, he was
terrified - and not Herod alone, but most of
Jerusalem as well.
4 Herod lost no time. He gathered all the high
priests and religion scholars in the city together and
asked, "Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?"
5 They told him, "Bethlehem, Judah territory. The
prophet Micah wrote it plainly:
6 It's you, Bethlehem, in Judah's land, no longer
bringing up the rear. From you will come the leader
who will shepherd-rule my people, my Israel."
7 Herod then arranged a secret meeting with the
scholars from the East. Pretending to be as devout
as they were, he got them to tell him exactly when
the birth-announcement star appeared.
8 Then he told them the prophecy about Bethlehem,
and said, "Go find this child. Leave no stone
unturned. As soon as you find him, send word and
I'll join you at once in your worship."9 Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star
appeared again, the same star they had seen in the
eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the
place of the child.
10 They could hardly contain themselves: They were
in the right place! They had arrived at the right time!11 They entered the house and saw the child in the
arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled
and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage
and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh.
12 In a dream, they were warned not to report back to
Herod. So they worked out another route, left the
territory without being seen, and returned to their own
MONDAY, JANUARY 2ND
Pastor Bob's and Naomi's day off.
The office will be closed today.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 3RD —
Back to school, kids.≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈
SATURDAY, JANUARY 7th —
Behavioral Covenant Workshop at
CASEY UMC - 9:30AM-NOON
2011 is nearly over. In summation, this has been
quite a year! We have had flooding.We had hundreds of tornadoes.We had a number of wildfires in the southwest.We have had a considerable number of protests,
both in the United States and abroad in countries
connected with Arab Spring, and now in Russia.
Japan experienced an incredible earthquake and tsunami.
Countries in Africa are enduring continued hunger.
Nearly 3,000,000 Americans have been evicted
from homes during our ongoing mortgage fiasco.
• We have had many good experiences as well.
Bringing our military people home from Iraq.
Time we have spent with family and friends. Therein
lies the golden moments.
We are very grateful for the hard working benevolent
people who gave incredible amounts of time, energy,
and monetary contributions to fix all of the staggering
problems that we have had this year. No, everything
is not fixed. Many problems will take much time, so
don't give up.
God Bless and Keep You,