Happy New Year!
Epiphany, the end of the Christmas season in the church, is this Wednesday. According to the Presbyterian Mission Agency:
"Epiphany is the celebration of God’s manifestation or self-revelation to the world in Jesus Christ. In particular, we celebrate the revelation of God’s promise and purpose to the nations of the world, as the magi came from the East to worship to the Christ child, and God’s covenant of grace is extended to all who believe the good news of Christ Jesus. The symbolism of light is important: not only because of the star that guided the magi, but as it relates to the bright dawning of God’s self-revelation in Christ."
When we meet in person, we share our joys and concerns together. Take a moment to consider your past week, especially as we have started a new year. What joys and concerns do you have? Who do you need to pray for? Feel free to share your prayer requests with us in the comments. When you are ready, pray the prayer below:
I want to offer a word of comfort today for those who are suffering, who've had a loss, who are going through something really difficult. Those who are trying to trust God when what's happening in your life just doesn't make any sense. You know, I often say that trust requires that we have some unanswered questions, but I know that sometimes when you want answers really, really bad and there aren't any, that it is difficult. I want to encourage you not to run from God in your pain but run to Him because He is the God of all comfort. God wants to comfort you right now. He wants you to know that He loves you, that it's not too late for you to begin again. God will heal you. He will heal your wounded soul. He will comfort your emotions. God cares so much about you and His grace is available to you right now to help you. You know, many things that we go through, we cannot possibly handle them on our own. But grace enables us. It gives us the power to do what we need to do. Amen.
This week's lesson is on Luke 4:14-22.
Jesus returned to Galilee and was in the power of the Spirit and went to Nazareth where he was bought up. He read from Isaiah:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, however he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. After Jesus gave back the scroll he said, “ Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Not only did Jesus heal physical afflictions like blindness, lepers and the crippled but Jesus came to heal us spiritually Jesus came to be a great Physician for he was sent to heal the broken-hearted, to comfort and cure afflicted conscience, to give peace to those who are troubled and humbled for sins and bring rest to the heavy laden, under the burden of guilt and corruption.
Messiah has come to set us free from the bondage of sin and death. The whole purpose of Christ coming was to rescue us. To do so, he had to die that he “might break the power of death -that is the devil “.
Whoever we are, wherever we are physically or spiritually, God’s message is clear: he wants all to be rescued, he wants us to come home. The acronym COME reminds us of this fact, he wants Children, Old people, Middle-age and Everyone else to come back to him. Jesus wrapped a robe of flesh around himself and came to die to pay sin’s price to make it possible that he would prepare a place in Heaven for his disciples.
There is a star in the northern sky that never sets. The Phoenicians, Vikings and sailors long ago used this star to get their bearings and to help their destination. For thousands of years it has been a reliable guide for travelers. It is called the North Star. As travelers can use that star yet today to guide them, how much more is Jesus still the reliable light for our path to Heaven!
We can find our way home only by following Jesus only. He is the light of the world to lead us all from the path of darkness into the light of the Father. Like Jesus did for his audience at Nazareth, Jesus calls us to him.
Father, we thank you for sending Jesus to die for our sins, for paying sin’s price so we don’t have to. May our eyes and ears be fixed on him as we continue his mission. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen.
Today's benediction is from the New International Version.
Next week's lesson will be on Luke 5:1-11.
We are a small, rural Presbyterian church in southwestern Pennsylvania.