SAT, Jan 1st, 2022
- Community Events: MUSIC AROUND TOWN
- Red Parka: Riley Parkhurst Project • 8-11pm
- Shannon Door: Sheehan & Holden • 7-10pm
- Shovel Handle Pub: Ryan st Onge • 530-8:30pm
- Wildcat Tavern: Jeremy Dean • 6-9pm
SUN, Jan 2nd, 2022
- INTERFAITH GATHERING ZOOM & IN-PERSON
8am • Old Red Library next to church (indoors) & Zoom link with password required.
Poetry and conversation. Join us. Bring your own hot beverage on cold mornings!
- EPIPHANY WORSHIP ZOOM & IN-PERSON – Epiphany and Communion
10:30am • Zoom link with password required.
- Live music by Alan Labrie
- Epiphany celebration
- Choral songs
- In-person attendance requires social distancing and masking for all attendees (additional precautions may be changed based on COVID stats and CDC guidelines).
- Service will also be live-streamed to website and Facebook (if technology supports this function on the day of event). Afterward, recordings of worship service will be posted to Facebook, Vimeo.com channel & Youtube.com channel.
- Community Events: MUSIC AROUND TOWN
- Red Parka: Blue Sunday with L&M Rhythm Kings • 5-8pm
- Shannon Door: Riley & Dan Parkhurst • 6-9pm
I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something. — Neil Gaiman
There’s nothing better when something comes and hits you and you think ‘YES’! ― J.K. Rowling
Without the quest, there can be no epiphany. ― Constantine E. Scaros
Twelfth Night, or the eve of Epiphany, marked the coming of the magi. ― Julie Klassen
I am the present, but I know I, too, will pass. The high moments, the burning flash, come and are gone, continuous quicksand …― Sylvia Plath
So I learned two things that night, and the next day …
the perfection of a moment, and the fleeting nature of it. ― Margaret George
In retrospect, I would have to recommend against epiphanies. They are difficult on an emotional level, and they also sometimes move you to foolish and inopportune acts … ― Peter David
SONGS about NEW YEAR:
- Auld Lang Syne performed by the Irish Rovers: https://youtu.be/XwkqYepulQ4
- Auld Lang Syne performed by Mariah Carey: https://youtu.be/Aop6YF1Xqqg
- What Are You Doing New Years Eve by Ella Fitzgerald (jazz): https://youtu.be/UFdfzNMV52Q
- What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? performed by Postmodern Jukebox ft. Rayvon Owen & Olivia Kuper Harris (jazz interpretation): https://youtu.be/EFIgMlBcKAs
- Happy New Year by ABBA (disco/pop): https://youtu.be/dvzc9QQevmo
- New Years Day by U2 (rock): https://youtu.be/jeYCyCaK_5k
- Its Just Another New Years Eve by Barry Manilow (pop):https://youtu.be/3wSP59NjoIY
- New Years Day by Bon Jovi (rock): https://youtu.be/_i5fBY3a5Q0
- Midnight by Berlon (rock/pop): https://youtu.be/q0KREEuMSgw
- Happy New Year Song by Sesame Street (children): https://youtu.be/mVl8QXijK_Q
SONGS about EPIPHANY:
- Epiphany by Taylor Swift (pop): https://youtu.be/DUnDkI7l9LQ
- Dancing in the Light by Entrain (world music): https://youtu.be/ZGR_5CQNwj4
- Love’s Dance by Earth, Wind & Fire (rock): https://youtu.be/1UUn7evCXDY
- Illumination by Anuna (celtic): https://youtu.be/Fs2sSf_rsGI
- Aha Moment from Tangled (Disney musical): https://youtu.be/I2Big6V1_eY
- Shining Light by Annie Lennox (rock): https://youtu.be/OfJeQDkz4JU
- Epiphany (Love Yourself) by BTS (Korean pop):
- Carol of the Epiphany by John Bell / Iona Community (Christian): https://youtu.be/mZsrQzYCXqg
- As With Gladness Men of Old by Metropolitan Tabernacle, London (Christian): https://youtu.be/6UzYlhF4ffw
- Epiphany by Staind (hard ock): https://youtu.be/5bobskjQwWI
NEW YEARS REFLECTIONS
Celebrate endings—for they precede new beginnings. —Jonathan Lockwood Huie
Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right. — attributed to Oprah Winfrey
Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. —Ralph Waldo Emerson
The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are. — J.P.Morgan
The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul. — Gilbert K. Chesterton
And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been. — Rainer Maria Rilke
Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.— Hal Borland
What the new year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the new year. — Vern McLellan
On New Year’s Eve the whole world celebrates the fact that a date changes. Let us celebrate the dates on which we change the world. ― Akilnathan Logeswaran
Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties. — Helen Keller
Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man. —Benjamin Franklin
Change can be scary, but you know what’s scarier? Allowing fear to stop you from growing, evolving, and progressing. — Mandy Hale
What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven’t even happened yet. — Anne Frank
We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come. —Joseph Campbell
Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely. — Karen Kaiser Clark
When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. When life is bitter, say thank you and grow. —Shauna Niequist
We all get the exact same 365 days. The only difference is what we do with them. —Hillary DePiano
BLESSING — Pastor Dawn
Fear not, dear ones.
For you are children of God.
The treasure you seek to give
lies not in the heavens,
but here, deep inside.
Open yourselves up
and give the world
the treasures creation needs.
You are the light of the world.
Shine! Shine! Shine!
Let the Light of Christ
the Love of God,
and the power of the Holy Spirit
shine forth in you!
POEM — Marianne Williamson
What holds us back in our lives is our fear.
And sometimes when you take a very close look
you find out that your fears
aren’t exactly what you thought they were.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness,
that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves,
who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened
about shrinking so that other people
won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest
the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.
So it’s holy work to move past your own fear.
It doesn’t just help you.
It helps the world.
THREE WISE ONES— attributed to Paul Curtis
The three wise men
Travelled for days before reaching Bethlehem
And arrived after the birth
They stood and viewed the scene in awe
And knelt reverently in the lords presence
Then gave their gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh
The three wise women
Would have stopped to ask directions
And arrived before the birth
They would have delivered the baby
Then they would have cleaned the stable and cooked a meal
Before giving the baby really useful gifts.
BC:AD — UA Fanthorpe
This was the moment when Before
turned into After, and the future’s
uninvented timekeepers presented arms.
This was the moment when nothing
happened. Only dull peace
sprawled boringly over the earth.
This was the moment when even energetic Romans
could find nothing better to do
than counting heads in remote provinces.
And this was the moment
when a few farm workers and three
members of an obscure Persian sect
walked haphazard by starlight straight
into the kingdom of heaven.
WISE WOMAN ALSO CAME — Jan Richardson
Wise women also came.
The fire burned in their wombs long before
they saw the flaming star in the sky.
They walked in shadows, trusting the path
would open under the light of the moon.
Wise women also came,
seeking no directions,
no permission from any king.
They came by their own authority,
their own desire, their own longing.
They came in quiet,
spreading no rumors,
sparking no fears to lead to innocents’ slaughter,
to their sister Rachel’s inconsolable lamentations.
Wise women also came,
and they brought useful gifts:
water for labor’s washing,
fire for warm illumination,
a blanket for swaddling.
Wise women also came,
at least three of them,
holding Mary in the labor,
crying out with her in the birth pangs,
breathing ancient blessings into her ear.
Wise women also came, and they went,
as wise women always do,
home a different way.
JOURNEY of the MAGI — T. S. Eliot
“A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.”
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.
VARIOUS PORTENTS — Alice Oswald
Various stars. Various kings.
Various sunsets, signs, cursory insights.
Many minute attentions, many knowledgeable watchers,
Much cold, much overbearing darkness.
Various long midwinter Glooms.
Various Solitary and Terrible stars.
Many Frosty Nights, many previously Unseen Sky-flowers.
Many people setting out (some of them kings) all clutching at stars.
More than one North star, more than one South star.
Several billion elliptical galaxies, bubble nebulae, binary systems.
Various dust lanes, various routes through varying thickness of Dark,
Many tunnels into deep space, minds going back and forth.
Many visions, many digitally enhanced heavens,
All kinds of glistenings being gathered into telescopes:
Fireworks, gasworks, white-streaked works of Dusk,
Works of wonder and or water, snowflakes, stars of frost …
Various dazed astronomers dilating their eyes,
Various astronauts setting out into laughterless earthlessness,
Various 5,000-year-old moon maps,
Various blindmen feeling across the heavens in Braille.
Various gods making beautiful works in bronze,
Brooches, crowns, triangles, cups and chains,
Various crucifixes, all sorts of nightsky necklaces.
Many Wise Men remarking the irregular weather.
Many exile energies, many low-voiced followers,
Watchers of whisps of various glowing spindles,
Soothsayers, hunters in the High Country of the Zodiac,
Seafarers tossing, tied to a star…
Various people coming home (some of them kings). Various headlights.
Two or three children standing or sitting on the low wall.
Various winds, the Sea Wind, the sound-laden Winds of Evening
Blowing the stars towards them, bringing snow.
EPIPHANY as CHRISTIAN CELEBRATION: Commentary
.. The Epiphany story is a collage of all the sources of revelation that the Church has scorned in its long history, all the things that we have come to fear, or see as heretical: non-Christians, leading the way to Christ, aided by divination and astrology. Interpretation of natural phenomena. Dream analysis! And yet God shamelessly uses all of these suspicious strategies to point toward this extraordinary thing she’s doing: joining heaven and earth, coming to live among us in a human body.
Despite our best efforts to describe and contain the divine, our God cannot and will not be put in a box. The story of Epiphany is a beautiful testament to the ways in which God transcends all human categories and constantly disrupts our expectations of where, how, and to whom God will appear. God is an opportunist, who will use any tools at her disposal to draw us back to her love, from tiny humans in mismatched pageant costumes to stargazing Persian magicians. So what unexpected means is God using to speak grace to you? What unexpected road might you take to reach the Christ Child? This Epiphany, may the God who spoke through strangers, stars, and dreams open our eyes and our hearts to the wildness of God’s love. — Kristin Saylor (full article)
This is the homely heart of Incarnation, this meeting of God in man with men and women, this simple face of divine graciousness in ordinary life rather than in the hymns of church fathers or in the dry elaborations of theologians. ― Eugene Kennedy
We must practice the presence of God. He said that when two or three are gathered together, there he is in the midst of them. He is with us in our kitchens, at our tables, on our breadlines, with our visitors, on our farms. When we pray for our material needs, it brings us close to his humanity. He, too, needed food and shelter; he, too, warmed his hands at a fire and lay down in a boat to sleep. ― Dorothy Day
They were Magi, as in magicians, and not the cute kind you hire for your kid’s birthday party. More likely, they were opportunistic, pagan, soothsaying, tarot-card-reading astrologers. Yet history made them out to be kings, maybe because the reality that they were magicians is too distasteful, since no one really wants the weird fortune-teller lady from the circus with her scarves and crystal balls to be the first to discover the birth of our Lord. — Nadia Bolz-Weber
To call the Magi ‘kings’ was to recognise in the Epiphany a fulfilment of Isaiah’s vision: And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising… they shall bring gold and incense. [Isaiah 60:3, 6]
This recognises that the Magi represented the culture, prestige, and power of a pagan kingdom. Their act of adoration, therefore, represented the homage of kings to Israel’s King. — laudable practuce blo
EPIPHANY as “AH-HAH!” MOMENT: COMMENTARY
I cannot be awake, for nothing looks to me as it did before, or else I am awake for the first time, and all before has been a mean sleep. ― Walt Whitman
Small things start us in new ways of thinking. ― V.S. Naipaul
Every life led to a series of quiet epiphanies – or at least to opportunities for epiphanies … The kindnesses … done for others. The love … given. The things they … come to understand in their hearts. ― Dean Koontz
Impossible; for how many people did you know who reflected your own light to you? People were more often–he searched for a simile, found one in his work–torches, blazing away until they whiffed out. How rarely did other people’s faces take of you and throw back to you your own expression, your own innermost trembling thought? ― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
Sometimes the dreams that come true are the dreams you never even knew you had. ― Alice Sebold
Now the wren has gone
to roost and the sky is turnin’ gold
And like the sky
my soul is also turnin’
Turnin’ from the past,
at last and all I’ve left behind”
― Ray Lamontagne Those times in life when a mask falls away and everything makes sense, even if just for a moment, you pay attention. Sometimes they involve an actual blindfold. ― Heather Durham
He wanted to meet in the real world the unsubstantial image which his soul so constantly beheld. He did not know where to seek it or how, but a premonition which led him on told him that this image would, without any overt act of his, encounter him. They would meet quietly as if they had known each other and had made their tryst, perhaps at one of the gates or in some more secret place. They would be alone, surrounded by darkness and silence: and in that moment of supreme tenderness he would be transfigured. He would fade into something impalpable under her eyes and then in a moment he would be transfigured. Weakness and timidity and inexperience would fall from him in that magic moment. ― James Joyce
One way is just to think, for instance, of biodiversity. The extraordinary thing we now know, thanks to Crick and Watson’s discovery of DNA and the decoding of the human and other genomes, is that all life, everything, all the three million species of life and plant life—all have the same source. We all come from a single source. Everything that lives has its genetic code written in the same alphabet. Unity creates diversity. So don’t think of one God, one truth, one way. Think of one God creating this extraordinary number of ways, the 6,800 languages that are actually spoken. Don’t think there’s only one language within which we can speak to God. The Bible is saying to us the whole time: Don’t think that God is as simple as you are. He’s in places you would never expect him to be. And you know, we lose a bit of that in English translation. When Moses at the burning bush says to God, “Who are you?” God says to him three words: “Hayah asher hayah.”Those words are mistranslated in English as “I am that which I am.” But in Hebrew, it means “I will be who or how or where I will be,” meaning, Don’t think you can predict me. I am a God who is going to surprise you. One of the ways God surprises us is by letting a Jew or a Christian discover the trace of God’s presence in a Buddhist monk or a Sikh tradition of hospitality or the graciousness of Hindu life. Don’t think we can confine God into our categories. God is bigger than religion. — Jonathan Sacks
… It was no messenger or angel but his presence that saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them. — Isaiah 63:9
Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights. — James 1:17
The Lord is God, and he has given us light. — Psalm 118:27
Light the final, fifth candle. Doing so, welcome Emmanuel—God with Us— into the world and into your life.
Godself is the holy source of love and light. Yet each person bears that light on behalf of the One who lived among humans, died as a human, and returned beyond death itself to meet you where you are on your own journey. Across centuries, your spiritual ancestors have taught that your hands and feet, your heart and mind, your acts and words embody and reflect the life of Christ.
In this imperfect, impermanent way, you carry holy light within you. Perhaps, by itself, your light is small in scale. Yet it changes the darkness and creates a point of focus and transformation. Then your singular light connects with others, multiplying its energy and effect.
The final candle you light on Christmas Day is an echo of the first and eternal light from which all other lights take their meaning and power. Thus God’s gift of love, reborn into the world, renewed in your heart, reawakened in your community, changes the world one light and one life at a time: beginning with you. Let it burn! — Rev Gail
Agape doesn’t love somebody because they’re worthy.
Agape makes them worthy by the strength and power of its love.
Agape doesn’t love somebody because they’re beautiful.
Agape loves in such a way that it makes them beautiful.
— Rob Bell
… the light is all. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you.
— Psalm 86:5
Bless the Lord, light and darkness; sing praise to him
and highly exalt him forever. — Prayer of Azariah 1:48
On the eve of holy love’s renewed arrival in the world, you prepare yourself. How do you get ready to welcome love at the door of your heart? Will you answer when it knocks on the threshold of your life? Will you hold up your own light in greeting? Or withdraw and wait for the One at the door to pass you by, hiding your light?
How could you possibly prepare for such an experience as holy agape love’s renewed arrival in the world and in your life? Perhaps simply by listening. Waiting. And setting aside any sense that you can do enough, or be enough, to earn such love and grace. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to pass a test or prove yourself.
Ideally, you have chosen an ethical path, because you a follower of agape love’s Way. Optimally, you have lived out what you believe. And yet … humans always fall short. Can you ever deserve holy love’s presence? Not really. It’s a gift.
Part of the gift of grace is that holy love simply shows up. Even when it’s not reasonable. Not rational. Even when you cannot possibly deserve it or earn it.
Yet a gift is meaningless unless the one to whom it is offered says yes to receiving it. Will you say yes?
Amazingly, wonderfully, holy agape love chooses you, simply because you are a beloved child of God. This holy love accepts you and embraces you, just as you are. At the same time, this love believes in all you might yet become.
Are you ready? Probably not. Yet love is coming anyway. — Rev Gail
Love is friendship that has caught fire.
It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence,
sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times.
It settles for less than perfection and
makes allowances for human weaknesses.— Ann Landers
At times our own light goes out and
is rekindled by a spark from another person.
Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude
of those who have lighted the flame within us.
— Albert Schweitzer
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. — Psalm 85:10
… and you shall come here, and I will light in your heart the lamp of understanding. — 2 Esdras 14:25
As you kindle the four primary candles that dance a circle around the final unlit candle—the long-awaited Christ candle—you are creating a network of light. You are preparing the way for the coming of ultimate light.
Agape, mentioned at the beginning of this week, is a holy love to which humans aspire, but which humans cannot actually attain. Its nature is so inclusive and comprehensive, so absolutely gracious and abundantly overflowing, humans as individuals and even as communities seek to model that ideal. Yet over and over, humans also miss the mark.
Should you be discouraged because agape is a form of love you might admire, and yet not be able to fully reach, to holistically practice? Alone or in community?
What Jesus’ lesson of the Beatitudes taught his followers was that while you cannot touch Godself, or fully love Godself, you can choose to love what God loves. And God loves all people and all of creation.
Thus, to strive toward agape, you are invited to have compassion for and connection with the recipients of holy love: humanity, all living beings and elements of creation, as well as the fullness of creation itself. If such an aspiration overwhelms you, then take it step by step. Choose one cause or corner of creation, one stranger or one neighbor, one part of your local community, where you can act on the principles of love for others and creation, as a reflection of your love for Godself.
One light at a time, the world is changed. One life at a time, love moves through the world.
The best love is the kind that awakens the soul;
that makes us reach for more,
that plants the fire in our hearts
and brings peace to our minds.
— Nicholas Sparks
We cannot hold a torch to light another’s path
without brightening our own. – Ben Sweetland