Have you ever played the online game where you match pairs of Mahjong tiles? Sometimes, no matter how long you stare at the screen, you can’t find any available matching tiles. You think the game is over. Then you press the “hint” button and discover one or more pairs that you missed, and the game continues.
This week commemorated the conversion of Paul, the great evangelist of the early church whose letters are the oldest writings in the New Testament. He started out persecuting Jesus’ post-Resurrection followers but completely reversed course and began proclaiming the gospel after Jesus appeared to him in a bright light while Paul was traveling to Damascus.
Sometimes conversions are like that. We experience a mighty revelation or epiphany in dramatic fashion, as Paul did.
More often, we experience smaller insights or “aha” moments in our lives. We suddenly understand something in a new way or feel called to try something new.
Sometimes we’re searching for a new direction or understanding or meaning in our lives, without success. That’s when it’s time to hit our spiritual “hint” button – to call on the Holy Spirit for help. Opening our hearts to the guidance of the Spirit can open our eyes to new patterns and possibilities.
Where might the Holy Spirit be guiding you this Epiphany season?
January 6 marks one of the major celebrations in our church, when we remember how wise men from the East followed a star to locate and pay homage to baby Jesus in Bethlehem. An epiphany is a revelation or manifestation of the divine. On this day, we rejoice at the manifestation of Jesus to the foreign Magi, demonstrating that the incarnate Word came into the world for all people.
This Sunday, I hope you will join us as we celebrate Epiphany and welcome Deacon John’s great-granddaughter Phoenix into our congregation through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. We’re also expecting a guest appearance of the three Magi!
As we contemplate the divine light that is Jesus, and the starlight that guided the wise men, let us also consider how we might share the light of Christ that is within us. One opportunity comes this Saturday, when St. John’s will provide the meal for the Saturday Luncheon Social. (If you can help, please let Sharon Liparini know at Sharon.Liparini@gmail.com.)
Our light also can shine brighter when we join in ministry with other light-bearers. This Wednesday, I invite you to attend a 7 p.m. prayer at service at St. John's with Bible meditations as we host members of St. Peter’s in Mountain Lakes and Church of our Saviour in Denville as part of the Got Faith? Christian formation program. This year, we also will continue to work with members of these and other congregations in supporting the Afghan refugee families in their resettlement.
I can’t wait to see how else St. John’s will spread light through our community in 2023.
I wish you all the joy of the Magi and look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
Christmas greetings from Rev. Sharon
The wait is almost over!
The last hours of Advent and holiday preparations are slipping away. Some of us may already have the decorations hung and the presents wrapped. Many of us may still be rushing around making last-minute purchases, trimming the tree or baking Christmas cookies.
Wherever you are in your preparations, I urge you to pause for a few moments to appreciate the season and remember the joy of the Christmas miracle that underlies it: that somehow, against all logic, the creator of the universe loved us enough to come to earth to experience and share life on earth as a human being.
Take time to worship with us, whether in person or via Zoom on Christmas Eve or in person on Christmas Day. We’ll sing familiar carols, listen to stories, share holy food and enjoy each other’s company as we give thanks and celebrate the feast of Jesus’ incarnation.
O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant! Come and behold him, born the king of angels! Come let us adore him, Christ the Lord!
Wishing all a merry and blessed Christmas! Our service times are listed below.
CHRISTMAS AND EPIPHANY SERVICES
Some days we may answer with an enthusiastic “yes,” but other days we feel less certain. Like the father who brings his sick child to Jesus for healing in the Gospel of Mark, we may cry, “I believe; help my unbelief.”
Faith development doesn’t just happen in Sunday school or stop after confirmation. It is a lifelong endeavor. As we age and mature, new knowledge and experiences inform, challenge and strengthen our faith.
For the past two years, some members of St. John’s have explored their faith with other Christians and those interested in learning more about Christianity in a program called “Got Faith,” co-sponsored by St. John’s, St. Peter’s in Mountain Lakes and Church of the Saviour in Denville.
On Wednesday, December 14, at 7 p.m., St. John’s will host the Got Faith program. We’ll gather for the Liturgy of the Word (the first part of Holy Eucharist) and have an opportunity to offer our personal reflections on the evening’s readings.
No preregistration or prerequisites are required, just a desire to gather with others to explore our faith. I hope you will join us!
Articles are posted by the Communication team, Rev. Sharon and others.