Week of January 7, 2024 - "To Epiphany... and beyond"

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 when it rose and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.  When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.  “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 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, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.  
Matthew 2:1-12 (NIV)
With apologies to both Buzz Lightyear and to Pastor Chris for this week's subtitle -- the vagaries of the 2024 calendar mean that Epiphany falls a day before the first Sunday of the calendar year!  The significance of Epiphany cannot be understated.  January 6, the "Twelfth Day of Christmas", marks Christianity's  commeration of the visit of the Magi to encounter the Lord Jesus, enrobed in flesh.  This momentous event is evidence of our guarantee that Jesus came as Savior for all who believe in Him, be they Jew or Gentile.  
Madeline Flores:  With both deep sadness and inexpressible joy, we learned last week that American Baptist Churches International Ministries Global Servant Rev. Madeline Flores-López joined the Church Triumphant on December 18, 2023, after a brief illness.  Madeline, of course, was a missionary based in Puerto Rico, with a ministry focused on the Dominican Republic for over two decades.  A number of our church members and friends have spent time working with her in the Dominican Republic, bringing back indelible memories of the opportunity to share the hope and joy of the Lord in that part of the world.  You may read the ABC’s International Ministries press release announcing Madeline’s passing here.
Madeline shared a “Moment for Missions” video with us in November of 2021.  You can watch it by clicking here.  She also visited us several times, most recently (to the best of my memory) in the fall of 2022 (see photo below).  Madeline’s enthusiasm and love for the Lord, for her ministry, and for the myriad people she served was supremely evident. We will miss her.  I can only echo the sentiment expressed in the IM press release and remember Madeline through the words of Jesus Himself, as recorded in Matthew 25:23, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”
I also share part of the prayer which Pastor Chris shared at the beginning of his message last Sunday:  Lord, we come to You with gratitude for Madeline -- and the shining example of joy in You that she was... thank You for that example that she is of how to spend a life.  
You can see and hear Pastor's prayer at the beginning of his sermon on Dec. 31 by clicking here.
Bible Study Schedule:  Our Sunday morning discussion of the Gospel of Matthew resumes at 9 am this Sunday, January 7.   We also continue to offer a weekday Bible discussion on Wednesday mornings at 10 am in Trumbull Hall.  Please join us for coffee, baked goods, and lively discussions of Scripture  for either or both, as your schedule permits .  All are welcome, no previous experience required!
Crafting Together: This long-running fellowship group meets this month on Monday January 8 at 1 pm in Trumbull Hall. Bring a craft and enjoy the company of others while you knit, sew, or pursue some other way of making things.
Church Directory Update: the directory is going to be updated. If you are not included or have updated information to share, there will be slips on the back table in the sanctuary you can fill out. Please give the cards to Elaine Hawthorne, Susan Johnson, or Susan Hardy. If you would like to have a picture included with your information or a new picture for the directory, please see Mark Hardy. Don’t have a directory? There are extra on the tables in the back of the sanctuary.

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