We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, who are still here, and we honor with gratitude the land itself and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

Study the book of Ruth and Esther with the Good Book Club

The Good Book Club is an invitation to all Episcopalians to join in reading the Bible as a community. Episcopalians will read a section every day through the Epiphany season.

The Club will distribute daily scripture readings, reflections, and teachings, from Epiphany, Friday, January 6, to Shrove Tuesday, February 21, 2023.

This year the club wll explore Ruth and Esther, books that explore the faithfulness and courage of two remarkable women.

The first thing to do is to sign up for updates which will senD the readings.


Sign up for update

Free Guide from Forward Movement

Introduction to Ruth

Introduction to Esther

Gospel Coalition Study

Live Course – Lindsay Hardin Freeman. Lindsay will examine these themes and others in Wednesday-night sessions in Epiphany from 8-9 p.m. E.T. from Jan. 11-Feb. 15, 2022.


Lectionary Epiphany 1 – The Baptism of our Lord

I.Theme –  The Promise of Christ and the revelation of the Trinity 


This is the Sunday for the Baptism of the Lord. It takes us back first to Isaiah.

Isaiahs foreshadows the role Jesus will play. Isaiah promises justice and places the eventual Jesus in God’s sphere. “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight, I have bestowed my spirit upon him.”  Like God he is to be “light to the nations” and to look after the downtrodden (bring out the prisoners from the dungeon) and those that suffer handicaps (eyes that are blind). There are new things to be declared.a 

The Psalm speaks on the role of God noting God’s supremacy, glory,strength and even with a powerful voice that ultimately gives peace to the people. The power of God is particularly evident in nature (waters, trees, the wilderness) . The Psalmist, speaking of God’s covenant with David to be fulfilled in the messianic promise (Psalm 29), is told that he will be named as God’s “first born – highest among the kings of the earth.”

With Isaiah, this story shares the theme of God’s concern for all humankind being impartial, and not limited to the Jews.

The New Testament readings bring Jesus to this mix. Peter is visiting Cornelius in the Epistle, an officer of the occupying Roman army and already a believer in God. Peter breaks Jewish law by visiting a Gentile. The story in Acts 10:34-43 tells of the missionary zeal of the early church in bringing this Good News of the Messiah, the King of Kings and servant King – not only to the household of Israel but to the Gentile world as well. The conversion of Cornelius marks an important turning point in which the Holy Spirit has broken through with a clear new direction, and Peter preaches to this Gentile convert of how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.” 

With the Gospel, it shares the theme of Baptism. “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. The reading is a capsule summary of Jesus meanings.  

Jesus baptism by John is to “fulfill all righteousness.”  Jesus baptism in Matthew shows his continuity with God’s will seen in the Old Testament: the coming of the “Spirit of God” (v. 16), an Old Testament term, shows he is the Messiah; the words spoken by the heavenly “voice” (v. 17) are much like Isaiah 42:1: Jesus is the agent of God who will suffer for others – not the kind of Messiah people expected.  

Christ’s baptism in the Jordan was “theophany,” a manifestation of God to the world, because it was the beginning of our Lord’s public ministry. It was also a “theophany” in that the world was granted a revelation of the Holy Trinity. All three Persons were made manifest together: the Father testified from on high to the divine Sonship of Jesus; the Son received His Father’s testimony; and the Spirit was seen in the form of a dove, descending from the Father and resting upon the Son.

The lectionary readings are here  or individually:

Old Testament – Isaiah 42:1-9
Psalm – Psalm 29
Epistle –Acts 10:34-43
Gospel – Matthew 3:13-17 

II. Summary


As appropriate the season of Epiphany, with its theme of revelation/manifestion to the Gentiles, the first reading from Isaiah is a classic text for the idea that God’s chosen one (whether an individual or a collective identity) has a mission to the nations. This was a test time. Chapters 40 to 66 were written during and after the Exile in Babylon. They are filled with a message of trust and confident hope that God will soon end the Exile.

Isaiah 42 is the first of the Servant Songs Growing out of a strong sense of vocation/blessing, these songs develop the theme that those called and chosen will find themselves drawn into a ministry of sharing their knowledge of God with others, and for the sake of others. They can also be understood as aligning Jesus with the shared calling of all Jewish people, and the calling shared with all his followers over time. These are essentially words of solidarity. Rather than marking out Jesus as an exception, they can be understood as celebrating Jesus as an exemplar. 

In 41:1, God speaks to Israelites scattered around the Mediterranean (“coastlands”, also in 42:4) in courtroom language, calling them together “for judgement”. God has “roused a victor from the east” (41:2, Cyrus) to serve him by conquering nations. God has acted in the past (“first”, 41:4) and will prophesy a coming revelation of himself (“last”). Other nations, and the gods they choose, are powerless, for they seek “courage” in what humans make (41:5-7). God demands: “set forth your case” (41:21): prove that you can foretell the future based on the past (“former things”, 41:22)! They cannot (41:28), but God can.

People of other nations choose their gods, but God will select his “servant”, his “chosen”; he has anointed this person (or Israel) with his “spirit”. When the agent comes, he will be unobtrusive and quiet (42:2, unlike Cyrus), gentle, respectful of others, and patient (v. 3). He will “bring forth justice”, i.e. take legal decisions ratifying and executing God’s will. He will not fail (“faint”, 42:4) nor be discouraged (“crushed”) until he has achieved God’s purposes; he will win over people to God’s ways (“teaching”). He will continue to do what God did in the past (42:5): he, the creator, is the source of life for his people (as he was in Adam); he will give his “spirit” to those who follow him. God called Israel as his people, led and “kept” (42:6, Revised English Bible: “formed”, as he formed Adam) them, and swore a pact with them. They are to bring enlightenment to others (“as … a light to the nations”, 42:6), to set them free. 42:8-9 returns to the courtroom: God’s name is Yahweh (“the L ORD”); he alone is God. Having seen his integrity in his acts in the past, his people can be sure that the “new things” he announces will indeed happen. He will bring his integrity to all (42:1).


This psalm is probably based on one to the Canaanite god Baal, the storm God, who brings the annual thunder-storm, the source of fertility for the land. In Israelite hands it expresses God’s supremacy and universal rule. In vv. 1-2, all other gods are invited to acknowledge the Lord’s supremacy and the glory due to him. (Israel was not yet strictly monotheistic.) Vv. 3-9 give us a picture of the storm. The “voice of the Lord” (vv. 3, 4, 5, 7-9) is thunder (repetitious claps). The storm is first seen approaching over the Mediterranean (v. 3); it sweeps in to the land, breaking the tall “cedars” (v. 5), as it advances across southern Lebanon. It vents its power on Mount “Lebanon” (v. 6) and then on Mount “Sirion”; it proceeds on into “the wilderness” (v. 8, the Arabian Desert). (“Flames of fire”, v. 7, is lightning.) “Kadesh” (v. 8) is probably Kedar, part of the desert. The Word of God is indeed mighty. In v. 9, “all” the gods do acknowledge God’s supremacy; they cry Glory be to the Lord! God rules over all from his throne (v. 10). May the Lord strengthen Israel and give it peace.


Peter is visiting Cornelius, an officer of the occupying Roman army and already a believer in God. Peter breaks Jewish law by visiting a Gentile. The Greek here is rough, full of grammatical errors, unlike the rest of Acts, so we may well have Peter’s unedited words. He tells the assembled company that God does not favour Jews over others: anyone, whatever his nationality, who reveres God and lives in unison with him “is acceptable to him” (v. 35). In vv. 36-38, Peter summarizes Jesus’ earthly ministry; he applies prophecies found in Isaiah 52:7 and 61:1 to Christ. (Psalm 107:20 says “… he sent out his word …”) Christ is Kyrios, “Lord of all” (v. 36). In baptism, the Father “anointed” (v. 38) Jesus “with the Holy Spirit” and with the “power” of God (but he was already integral with God’s very being.) The good news (“message”, v. 37) spread throughout Palestine (“Judea”); he “went about” (v. 38) “doing good” and combatting evil, doing deeds so powerful that it is clear that he was God’s agent: he is a model for all to follow.

He suffered death as one guilty of a capital offence, per Deuteronomy 21:23: he hung on a “tree” (v. 39) and was cursed. (By Jesus’ time, the “tree”, a pole, had acquired a cross-arm.) But, although cursed, the Father “raised him” (v. 40) and “allowed him to appear” to those chosen by God – to be “witnesses” (v. 41). In Luke 24:41-43, Jesus eats broiled fish with them, so he was clearly humanly alive again, i.e. physically brought back from death, resurrected. Jesus, the Kyrios, is the one appointed by God to set up the Kingdom and to judge both those who are alive, and those who have died, at Judgement Day (v. 42). Then v. 43: he fulfills many Old Testament prophecies: he is the one through whom sins are forgiven. Forgiveness is now available to “everyone who believes”, not just to Jews.


The baptism of Jesus by John is a tradition that Matthew shares with the other three NT Gospels, and that fact alone puts this story into a special category. Interestingly, while all the Gospels agree on the tradition that John was baptized by John, they have different stories about the event. The diversity of the stories stands in contrast to the unanimity of the tradition.

However, Matthew does make one very significant change to the story he inherited from Mark. This is to be observed in the protest from John when Jesus requests baptism, and the reassuring response from Jesus: John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” What matters is not who baptizes but the experience of God, the continuity with God’s will seen in the Old Testament: Jesus really is God’s “Son”;

he is chosen for ministry to God’s people, and

God approves his coming for baptism and his joining with his people in preparing for the coming crisis.


III. Articles for this week in WorkingPreacher:

IsaiahIsaiah 42:1-9

PsalmPsalm 29

Acts Acts 10:34-43

MatthewMatthew 3:13-17 

The Baptism Page

“Go forth and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit….and remember I am with you always.” – Matthew 28:19-20

Baptism is…..welcoming into the community of faith & the Body of Christ.

Baptism is…..belonging to God as “Christ’s own forever.”

Baptism is….washing of our sins and renewing our life in faith.

Baptism is…..a holy sacrament, an outward sign of God’s inward grace.

Baptism is…..a gift of God’s grace through the Holy Spirit.

The Setting for Sunday

We have just celebrated the birth of Christ and will experience his death and resurrection on Easter. However, one key event we should put in the same category is Jesus’ baptism.  We have various  weeks set aside for baptisms – first Sunday after Epiphany (Baptism of Jesus), Easter, Pentecost,Feast of the Transfiguration (Sunday nearest Aug. 6), All Saints Sunday, whenever the Bishop visits) .  Whether we have a baptism or now, we usually include the section in the prayer book for the renewal of the Baptismal Covenant in the service. In the past we have also “sprinkled” people.

Baptism in the Episcopal Church

From the Episcopal Library “This is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body, the church. God establishes an indissoluble bond with each person in baptism. God adopts us, making us members of the church and inheritors of the Kingdom of God (BCP, pp. 298, 858). In baptism we are made sharers in the new life of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness of sins. Baptism is the foundation for all future church participation and ministry.”


From the Diocese of New York

We owe much to the Apostle Paul who, through his writings, left a record of how the early Christian community understood Baptism. 

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by Baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4). 

Baptism was, for the early Christian community, a sacramental action to convey that one was experiencing spiritual conversion and renewal–the end of one life and the beginning of another in Christ. By using the metaphorical language and imagery of death, burial, and resurrection, the early community ceremonially expressed, that in Baptism, we die to our destructive and distorted ways of being, relating, and acting, and that by the goodness and faithfulness of God, we are raised from death to a new life, guided by and filled with the Spirit of God. It was an outward and visible sign of the spiritual transformation God was doing in one’s life. It was a symbolic action performed to depict what was happening within the life of one on a spiritual journey towards communion with God, the people of God, and all God’s creation. 

Although the metaphor of being raised from death to new life is the dominant image of Christian Baptism in the New Testament, no single image or metaphor can exhaust the rich meaning of one’s conversion and experience of spiritual renewal. Consequently, there developed other images and metaphors in Scripture that express how the early Chrisitan community spoke of their conversion of life and experience of renewal in the Holy Spirit. Among them are: 

Spiritual Rebirth (John 3:3-10)
Spiritual Awakening (Romans 8:37-39)
Initiation into the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:12-13)
Transformation of the whole person (Romans 12:1-2)
Made a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17)
To turn from darkness to light (Ephesians 5:8, Colossians 1:11-14)
To be saved (Titus 3:3-7)

One 0f the questions in baptism is whether infants or children should be baptized automatically or there is a specific age ?

Read more about baptism…

Living the Baptismal Covenant

This is a mini catechism used at baptisms and on Easter and other special occasions, the Baptismal Covenant opens with a question-and-answer version of the statement of faith that is the Apostles’ Creed and adds  questions regarding how we, as Christians, are called to live out our faith. 

Our Baptismal Covenant as Lived in our Context (from the Diocese of San Diego)

1. Worship and Formation

“Will you continue in the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, the breaking of the bread, and in the prayers? ” 

“I will, with God’s help. “

We are daring and fearless followers of Jesus, empowered by dynamic and transformative worship and spiritual formation practices and programs.

2.  Repentance and Reconciliation

“Will you resist evil, and whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord? “

“I will, with God’s help. “

We value repentance and reconciliation, acknowledging when we have turned away from God and one another, seeking wholeness and healing by turning back to God and one another. In this we seek to be a welcome and open community for all. If you have turned away from God, if you have tried to follow Jesus and have failed, or are trying for the first time, you are welcome here.

Baptism Covenant continues…

David Lose – Baptism as Acceptance

David Lose is the president of Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. Here he  explores the importance of baptism in our social media influenced world:

“Baptism of Christ” – Joachim Patinir (c1515-1526)

I want to start with a question: how often do you think about your baptism?

I’m asking you to think about all this, of course, because this Sunday, the first Sunday after the Epiphany, is the day on which we remember Jesus’ own baptism. And both the text from Mark and the day itself offer an opportunity to think more deeply, and claim more fully, the promises God made to us at our own baptism. 

More importantly, however, I’m asking you to think about all this because I believe there is perhaps no more important event in our lives than our baptism. Let me explain.

Read more from David Lose…

The Secret of our Baptism

Dr. Heather Murray Elkins poignantly shares about the mystery and meaning of Christian baptism in this Youtube video. Part of the “Living the Questions” series.   An amazing experience!  She is Professor of Worship, Preaching, and the Arts at Drew Theological School and an ordained elder in the Methodist church.

The ‘Whys’ of Baptism – 3 questions

“The Baptism of Christ” – Daniel Bonnell

From Lawrence in “Disclosing New Worlds”  

1. Why did Jesus get baptized in the wilderness and not the temple? 

Mark uses geography as a narrative device to set up the opposition between Jesus (and what God is doing in Jesus) and the Temple (and what the religious authorities expect God to be doing). The wilderness has immediate echoes of the Exodus story. It is a hostile place. It is a place of suffering and death. It is the place where wild animals live and which hostile spirits were believed to inhabit. Yet it is also the place to meet God – in burning bushes and on a mountain. It is the place where Israel came to know Yahweh and received the Law. It is the place of refuge for Elijah when his life is in danger. It is the place where the persecuted faithful gather to await deliverance (like the Qumran community). It is the place where Yahweh’s voice is to be heard – the place of prophets.

It has political significance, too. It is the place to which political refugees fled for safety, and also the place, in Jesus’ time, where would-be revolutionaries gathered to train and plot treason – a gathering place for freedom fighters, terrorists and wanna-be messiahs. In Roman terms, it was a place of resistance and opposition – just as it had been in Ahab’s day, when Elijah and the other prophets gathered there because of their opposition to Ahab’s regime.

In other words, locating Jesus in the wilderness emphasizes what Mark has said in his opening verse: the message and ministry of Jesus is a resistance movement. Jesus is God’s one-person invasion force, because he exemplifies and personifies the Kingdom of God. It is this Kingdom that will stand forever, not Rome’s. He alone is the true Son of God, worthy of worship – not Caesar (remember: Mark has a Roman centurion declare that Jesus is the Son of God at the crucifixion). And, over against the Jewish religious authorities, the Kingdom of God that Jesus brings is not the kingdom they expect. It is not for Israel alone, but for the whole world. It is not a ‘holiness movement’, but a movement of grace that embraces the unholy. It is not for the rich and powerful but for the poor and marginalised. It is not a reinforcement or re-establishment of the Temple tradition: Jesus will pronounce judgment on the Temple and prophesy its destruction (Mark 13), but a return to the God of the Exodus and the God of the prophets – a return to the wilderness.

2. Why was Jesus baptized at all ?

In stripped back prose, Mark announces that Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just like everyone else who was there that day. The question is, why was Jesus baptized? It is clear that the baptism inaugurates his mission. It is equally clear that Jesus has no need of repentance (in the sense of being a sinner) – a fact that Matthew feels compelled to clarify when faced with Mark’s narrative (see Matthew 3: 13-15).

More questions on baptism…

Recognizing the Sacred in an Beyond the Stories We Tell of the Baptism of Jesus – Pastor Dawn

Full story

Baptism is a beautiful welcoming moment in which the full potential of LOVE is glimpsed. All that hope all that potential, I can’t help but well up with joy at the very possibility that all the challenges that Jesus lived his life to teach us about, all the challenges to the way we are, come to us in the waters of baptism. In the waters of baptism we see beyond the drops of water to the very stuff that nourishes, grounds and sustains us in this life, and we also see the possibilities of what life might become if we love one another. When the waters of baptism touch the head of a child, they are anointed with possibility, the possibility of love, the possibility of peace, the possibility of joy, and yes the possibility of pain. And all that possibility comes to them in the context of a community that is both renewed by such beautiful potential and refreshed by the challenges of living into that baptism. For the Body into which we are born in the waters of baptism is the is the body of Christ, an incomplete body of imperfect people who are doing their best to follow a path toward a world in which everyone is loved; everyone has enough, and everyone can live in peace.

Just as the gospel-story-tellers crafted stories about Jesus baptism which enabled their people to recognize the sacred in Jesus, we too must craft our stories about baptism in ways that enable us to recognize the sacred in one another and I do mean the other. It is easy to see the sacred in a baby or in a loved one, but how do we see the sacred in the other? How do we see the sacred in the enemy, or on this day of all days, how do we recognize the sacred in the terrorist? How must the way we tell our stories change so that everyone can recognize the sacred? What epiphanies await us? What do we need to do to facilitate epiphanies?

So where was Jesus baptized ?

When we think of sites associated with the life of Jesus, we think of Bethlehem and Jerusalem. A third site, the site of Jesus baptism, has only assumed importance in the last two decades.

A former military area covered with mines is the site of the baptism of  Jesus – “Bethany beyond the Jordan” and was not discovered  until 1897 when a scholar Jerusalem traveled to Madaba and accidentally uncovered mosaic map that had been covered by plaster. The area had been known as Bethabara since the 4th century, actually by mistake since that site was at the crossing of the Jordan by Joshua. A 6th Century monastery was present at the site of the baptism (Saphsaphas) across the river and was documented by visitors since that time. It was the site of John the Baptist’s cave. Ancient Pilgrim accounts helped lead explorers to area in 1899.  It is east of the Jordan River actually in Jordan today.

Two world wars and internal conflicts in 1948, 1967 and 1973 prevented the uncovering and full exploration of the site.  Today, it is preserved as holy site by the Jordanian government. 

Read more about Jesus place of baptism…

Alexander Shaia on Baptism

This Sunday’s text is regularly called “Jesus’ Baptism”. Grrrrr. By using this name we show disrespect for our Jewish mother and we lessen the power and understanding of Christian baptism.

Yes, we have the story of Jesus going down into the Jordan River this Sunday – because it is one of the three traditional accounts of The Feast of The Epiphany (radiance becoming manifest).

But for gosh sake – this is not a text of Christian baptism. Jesus is submitting to the Jewish rite of a mikvah bath. Yes in the first century, Judaism was using Greek terms to describe its own rituals. In the Greek of that century – a mikvah bath was called baptism. Two hundred years later, Judaism reverted back to its original name – mikvah bath – because baptism had come to be a name generally associated with the Christian ritual.

Words and names matter. Please help people understand that there is Jewish “baptism” that is now called a mikvah bath and there is Christian “baptism.” Each is quite distinct from the other.

However, there are two elements from this Mikvah Bath in the Jordan that Christianity brought into its own ritual of baptism.

Remember that the Jordan River – for the Jews of this time – is considered to be the place of the demonic – the place of one’s deep anxieties. Going down into the Jordan, was a visceral aspect of living through one’s most raw wounds for the sake of renewed life.

For this reason, Christianity chose running water (which is treacherous, potentially demonic water) to be the primary element of Christian baptism. The water here was not about cleansing, but rather this flowing water held a death-like experience.

Secondly, in the midst of a death-like experience – may each Christian entering such water – hear also Spirit’s voice that says, “You are my Beloved, in whom I am well pleased.”

In hearing this account of Jesus going into the flowing water of the Jordan to receive a Jewish mikvah bath – let us remember that Radiance Increases within us in equal measure to our willingness to live through our deepest anxieties – knowing that each of us is already ‘beloved’ and in which Spirit is well pleased.

PLEASE please let us respect our Jewish sisters and brothers by using the proper name for their ritual – a Mikvah Bath – and not using this Sunday to perform Christian baptism. This text is not a text of Christian baptism. Jesus is not receiving Christian baptism. The fullness and meaning of Christian baptism is an Easter story, not The Epiphany story.

Baptism in the movies 

There are many films that use baptism and others that relate baptism themes:

1. Godfather (1972)  Michael Rizzi’s baptism service is interspersed with the assassination of the heads of the five families. Michael Corleone stands as the child’s literal Godfather while simultaneously becoming the “Godfather” in the Cosa Nostra sense.   An amazing sequence of images.

2. Paper Chase (1973)  The whole movie shows the “baptism under fire” potential law students go through to become one of the “community.” As with early Christians who had a lot of work to do before being accepted, these students struggle with the new way of life and expectations at law school. The end of the movie suggests that some people find that going through such a baptism is a learning experience, but they don’t want to join the community because they see problems with it-or other things in life more valuable.

3. Forrest Gump (1987)  In the opening sequence, the first thing we see is a feather dislodging from a dove flying overhead. The feather wafts along, almost alighting on several “acceptable” people, finally settling on Forrest, sitting on the bench, waiting for the bus. Mark 1:10, from this week’s Gospel: “…he saw…the Spirit descending like a dove on him.”

More examples…

Sermon, Epiphany, Jan. 6, 2023 – “Where should we be looking?”

The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to Matthew. 

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “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.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

`And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;

for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.'”

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then 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. When 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. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

The gospel of the Lord. 

When the wise men arrived in Jerusalem after following the star across untold miles, they had only one question for King Herod. 

“Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?”

That question struck me as one that we should always be asking.

“Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?”

“Where is our Lord and Savior in this world?” 

Where should we be looking? 

We don’t want to leave the wise men and their question about where to find Jesus trapped in the Gospel according to Matthew and largely forgotten after the Christmas season.

Because their question, “Where should we be looking?” is the question that informs our own journeys to God. 

The fact that the wise men saw a star that guided them reminds us that when we are on the lookout for Jesus, active and at work in our lives, we will receive signs, maybe not as dramatic as a star, but signs none the less! 

As I mentioned in the sermon on the last Sunday of Advent, these signs may be enigmatic, or the signs may be literal, but God will speak directly to us about where Jesus may be found in our world—and I won’t discount prophets and angels speaking to us, or even stars and other signs from God’s creation lighting the way. 

The places we find Jesus will probably be unexpected.  The wise men went to Herod, because they knew that Jesus was born the king of the Jews.  And yet, Jesus wasn’t in the halls of power, but with his parents in the small town of Bethlehem. 

This location would have been unexpected, except to those who had been watching for signs of the Messiah—the chief priests and scribes knew, for they had studied the prophets. 

What are the unexpected places we can look for Jesus?  (Ask what listeners think) 

I’d say that we can find Jesus wherever there is love.  The wise men found Jesus with his mother, who loved and cared for him.   Wherever people love and care for one another, Jesus is present. 

And when we find ourselves in his presence, we too want to kneel before Jesus in gratitude, and offer all that we have to him, to bring our gifts. 

The greatest gift we can offer is to become the signs of Jesus, present and active here and now, loving and caring for one another. We can bring love and care to those who have no care or love, and who so desperately need God’s visible presence with them. 

But sometimes, when we are suffering or in pain, or full of anxiety,  it’s hard to be a sign of Jesus, or to go looking for Jesus, or to realize that Jesus is already present with us.   

That’s when using our imaginations becomes essential.  In his meditation, Journey to the Heart of God, January 2, 2023, Richard Rohr, a Catholic theologian, says that “Imagination is largely a matter of being able to re-image life in new ways.  It is not to be caught or trapped in old images of hopelessness. When we’re trapped in old images, we keep living out of them, fighting against them, resisting them, and even saying they don’t work. But it seems we are incapable oftentimes of creating or even accepting new images and living out of those new images.”

Hopelessness can keep us from searching, imagining or knowing anything except hopelessness. 

And that’s the beauty of the Epiphany. 

When we are feeling hopeless, we can remember the wise men.   We can call them up in our minds.  We can see them on the horizon, following the star that God has sent, leading them who knows where.  We can imagine ourselves following after them, and we too will eventually find the beloved community where Jesus waits. 

For even if at times we must only imagine Jesus, because we are in pain or suffering, and he’s nowhere to be found,  in the imagining that we are with him, we can find hope and even joy and the peace that passes all understanding, the peace that keeps our hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord—Jesus, who is alive, and sustaining and true, the one who loves us beyond even our greatest imagining.    

Epiphany – a Perfect start to the Year

A perfect start to the year Epiphany – What a perfect feast to start the year with! The magi’s, story challenges us to begin the year on our feet, already walking the path of righteousness. We are given the gift of a mission, called to look up to God, following His star even when earthly authority stands in our way. We are reminded to carry our gifts faithfully, laying them at the feet of God, allowing Him to make full use of those gifts. Epiphany says to every heart, stank up from your apathy, look up to God, lift up your gifts and follow His path, What better recipe for a year could we find?

Sunday links, Jan 8, The Baptism of Jesus

Lessons and Carols, Jan 1

Jan.6, 7:00pm – Epiphany

Jan.8, 11:00am – Baptism of Jesus

  • Epiphany service Jan 6, 7pm  Zoom link Jan. 6, 2023, Epiphany
  • Baptism of Jesus Sun, Jan 8 YouTube link Jan. 8, 2023
  • Lectionary for Jan. 6, 2023, Epiphany
  • Lectionary for Jan. 8, 2023, Baptism of Jesus
  • Bulletin for Jan 6, 2023, Epiphany, Bulletin
  • Morning Meditation , Jan 9, 6:30am Zoom link Meeting ID: 879 8071 6417 Passcode: 790929
  • Ecumenical Bible Study, Wed., Jan 11, 10am-12pm.
  • Village Dinner, Wed., Jan 11, 4:30-6pm.
  • January, 2023 Newsletter
  • All articles for Jan 8, 2023