“Bloom with Grace: Epiphany” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

December 31st,2020 Categories: Stephanie Kendell Letters, Weekly Letter

Beloved Church,

Happy New Year! We did it! If you are reading this- take a grateful breath- you have made it to the new year by the grace of God! This new year has been much anticipated and yet it was not a given for so many in this world. We will carry the spirit of their hopes and dreams with us into this new year as we cast new vision with God. This Sunday is Epiphany, and we hope you will join us for 11:00 am worship and 10:30 am Children’s worship.

For the last six years, I have started each year with a star-word. I don’t do new year’s resolutions as many of you know (I do Resurrection Resolutions at Easter), but that doesn’t mean I start the new year untethered. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. A star word is a word that you get (it’s usually at random) and that word is the word that you use to center yourself and the word you look for throughout the year. Last year my star-word was balance, and it was given to me by a Bethany Fellows colleague. When I was feeling overwhelmed with the state of the world or when I let my plate get too full of things to do, I would remember that I am called to be in balance with God and right-side my behaviors and commitments. I also like star-words because they remind me of the epiphany text that usually starts off our worshipping year and this year is no different. This text from Matthew tells the story of astrologers following a star to meet Jesus – It’s a star-word of another sorts. So, let’s read together and then when we are done, I’d like for each of you to get a star word for the year. Read to the bottom to find out how.

After Jesus’ birth—which happened in Bethlehem of Judea, during the reign of Herod—astrologers from the East arrived in Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the newborn ruler of the Jews? We observed his star at its rising and have come to pay homage.” At this news Herod became greatly disturbed, as did all of Jerusalem. Summoning all the chief priests and religious scholars of the people, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.

 “In Bethlehem of Judea,” they informed him. “Here is what the prophet has written:

 ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,

are by no means least among the leaders of Judah,

since from you will come a ruler

who is to shepherd my people Israel.’ ”

Herod called the astrologers aside and found out from them the exact time of the star’s appearance. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, after having instructed them, “Go and get detailed information about the child. When you have found him, report back to me—so that I may go and offer homage, too.”

After their audience with the ruler, they set out. The star which they had observed at its rising went ahead of them until it came to a standstill over the place where the child lay. They were overjoyed at seeing the star and, upon entering the house, found the child with Mary, his mother. They prostrated themselves and paid homage. Then they opened their coffers and presented the child with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

They were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, so they went back to their own country by another route.
[Matthew 2:1-12 (ILB)/ Mateo 2:1-12 (NVI)]

The star in this story brings people to Jesus and in turn brings Jesus to the people. It’s powerful and meaningful- and unexpected. So, in that spirit, I invite you to go to http://wordoftheyear.me and get your own star-word to start this year. Try to just push the button once and take that word for what it is. Words have multiple meanings and ways of influencing us. So, if your word seems a bit odd, trust that God can and will work with everything. May this new year find us open to the inspired and moving ways of God.

Rev. Stephanie

A quick prayer for your week:  Holy and Gracious God, Thank you for the gift this new year, Amen.