Pastor Bill’s Blog
Pastor Bill’s Bits
God Came Near
Some of us may see January as a cold, bleak month, but January has a couple of things going for it. First, we celebrate Epiphany on January 6—the coming of the wise men to visit Jesus and show that He came not just to be the Savior of the Jewish people, but the Savior of the world!
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”…When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
-Matthew 2:1-2, 10-11
Epiphany (meaning manifestation) is January 6 and is a more ancient celebration in the church than Christmas. It is closely related to Christmas, in that both originated as the church’s attempt to replace the pagan worship of the sun-god during the winter solstice (shortest day of the year). Due to imperfect calendars, the winter solstice originally occurred between January 5 and 6 in ancient times. The early church Christianized this celebration with the observance of Epiphany, the Lord’s appearing.
Later a major correction of the calendar was made so that the winter solstice fell on December 25. Another pagan celebration to the sun-god was instituted on this date, which the church replaced with Christmas. Due to later fine-tuning of the calendar, the winter solstice now occurs on December 21, but the old celebrations have been retained.
This adjustment to the calendar also gave rise to the 12 Days of Christmas, for it is 12 days from Christmas Day to Epiphany.
Epiphany has meant various things in the church, including the angels appearing to the shepherds, Christ’s birth, Christ’s baptism, and the appearing of the star that lead the wise men to Jesus. Today the arrival of the wise men is observed in most Protestant churches.
January is also the beginning of a new year, with the opportunity for a new start, a new vision, or a new direction in life; or maybe the new year is an opportunity to help others see a new vision and lead them into it. So, the following are a few quotes to help you with a new start:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
-2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
If this is to be a Happy New Year, a year of usefulness, a year in which we shall live to make this earth better, it is because God will direct our pathway. How important then, to feel our dependence upon Him!
Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.
I have never been disappointed when I asked in a humble and sincere way for God’s help. I pray often. I think I pray more often since January 12th.
-Jimmy Carter (one month after being inaugurated Governor of Georgia on January 12, 1971)
It is better to follow even the shadow of the best, than to remain content with the worst, and those who would see wonderful things must often be ready to travel alone.
-Henry Vandyke, The Other Wise Man
Give to all, lest the one you pass over should be Christ Himself.
God has planted greatness in you. Let today be the beginning of a great adventure as you step into the gifts He’s given you.
It is possible to give without loving, but it is impossible to love without giving.
May God bless you in this New Year as you put your life in His hands and take that next step of faith on the journey of the Christian adventure!