Decorating the sanctuary for Christmas 2017.
Gathered around Word and water, bread and wine, we spread God’s Word by living our faith daily and welcoming all with open hearts and minds.
St. Mark is a spiritual community that celebrates the gifts of God that empower us to engage in the struggles of life, to care for each other, and to serve Christ where we work and live. We welcome the participation of people of all ages, faiths, ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, gender identities, educational backgrounds, and economic conditions – all who want to join in community to honor God and be of service to people. We recognize that each person is a unique creation of God and by the grace of God is called a “child of God.”
“I’ve had an EPIPHANY!” Mr. Zigmund exclaimed this to me one evening in English class when I was teaching in Slovakia over ten years ago. At 76 years old, he was my oldest and most dedicated student, and also quite the jokester. He then proceeded to tell me that it had been “revealed” to him that English was a crazy language and he was crazy for trying to learn it!
Well, you may have heard the word “epiphany” tossed around in the church season. The word “epiphany” comes from the Greek word “to appear” or “to show oneself.” In the church tradition, on the day of epiphany we celebrate how Christ appeared, or was revealed, to the world.
This special feast day is one of the oldest, aside from Christmas and Easter, in Christian tradition. It’s celebrated by Christians all over the world, including the Eastern (Greek, Eastern and Russian Orthodox – to name a few) and Western (Roman Catholics and Protestants – including Lutherans) churches. For both churches Epiphany is celebrated twelve days after Christmas. For Lutherans and other Western Christmas, that means that each year Epiphany falls on January 6th. For Eastern Christians, who have a different calendar and Christmas date, it falls on January 19th.
As Lutherans, along with Catholics and other Protestants, on Epiphany we celebrate the coming of the Magi, the three wise men. They represent how Christ was revealed as an infant to the Gentiles, a light to people of all times and nations.
In the Eastern church tradition, the day of Epiphany celebrates the baptism of Christ in the Jordan. They remember how Christ divinity was revealed in his baptism as the heavens were opened and the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus.
In January of 2009 I traveled with a group from the Chicago seminary to Israel/Palestine. On the last day of our trip, January 19th, we made a short trip to the traditional site of Jesus’ baptism at the Jordan River. There we were surprised to see a huge gathering of Coptic Christians (The Eastern church in Egypt) gathered at the river to celebrate Epiphany. They celebrated with lively singing, lots of incense and praying, by blessing the water and remembering their baptism.
As we begin this New Year, 2019, my hope is that we can all experience the joy of Epiphany here at St. Mark. May we experience Christ revealed to us in the coming of a child and in the waters of baptism. May Christ’s grace and love be revealed to you in new and enlightening ways this year.
In Christ’s Light,
St. Mark is a Reconciling in Christ Congregation.
The Reconciling in Christ (RIC) Program is for congregations, synods, colleges, seminaries, and other Lutheran organizations. Lutheran communities that publicly welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are accepted onto the Reconciling in Christ Roster which now exceeds 600 settings.
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For more than 100 years, the Mission Investment Fund and its predecessors have been financing church-related building projects and land purchases. The money invested will fund building loans to churches and help spread God's word. The Mission Investment Fund is a resource for church building and much more.
Mission Investment Fund website. Click here.