Epiphany (with a capital ‘E’)

There was a funny, not-so-funny, event at our church between Christmas Day and January 6th, we had a building inspection done by our town inspector. I want to say first of all that we take safety as an important part of our ministry, especially because we have a preschool with 70 children attending. I am grateful for the expertise that comes to our door from the town’s offices at no additional expense to us to ensure we operate our building in as safe a manner as possible.

Our inspector was thorough, thoughtful, courteous, and provided not only comments but also suggestions. As I as said, we are fortunate to have an outsider’s view of the building. I wish I had been there at one particular point though, not to rebuff or challenge an issue of safety, the inspector was right-on with all the things he pointed out to us, but to educate and provide an opportunity for understanding our faith.

Our inspector, upon finding a manger with a little hay in it, rightfully pointed out that we should be careful with this lying around and probably use a fire resistant substitute instead, all good advice. It was the other comment as related to me though that I think we all tend to fall into, he said something like “after all, Christmas is over..”

OK, this was a few days after Christmas Day but before January 6th so here is the opportunity. Christmas, the Christmas Season, actually does not end until Epiphany (notice the capital ‘E’, more on that in a moment). I wish I had been present during the meeting to provide a moment of reflection for our industrious inspector.

If you have ever heard the song, “Twelve Days of Christmas’ then you might begin to see the clue to the error in the statement ‘after all, Christmas is over.’ Yes, the BIG day, Christmas Day, with all the presents and family and friends and food and all has past but the season of celebration isn’t over. In the song, the courting partner offers his or her true love gifts on each of the twelve days of Christmas. You know, a partridge, some pipers, maids a milking, etc.

Epipihany, with the capital ‘E’ is according to the online dictionary from Mirriam-Webster, “January 6 observed as a church festival in commemoration of the coming of the Magi as the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.” (www.merriam-webster.com).

We as Christians really begin preparing for Christmas Day with the four weeks of Advent prior to Christmas Day and don’t have “Christmas over” until the Magi arrive bearing gifts. That’s a long time. Perhaps had I been there, our friendly inspector would have had his own ‘epiphany’ with a small ‘e’ which is defined (again from Mirriam-Webster) as “an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure, a revealing moment.” Merry Christmas!

Pastor Rick

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Yoga For Advent, a yoga class for the season

Monday, December 17, 7-8:15 p.m.
Make this year’s Advent season extra special! This is the most wonderful time of the year, but sometimes it’s also the busiest! Slow down, get quiet and have a mini-retreat. Basic yoga breath and poses will be blended with scripture that celebrates the calm, peace and joy of this beautiful time of year. Come get centered, relaxed and restored and remember what this time of year is all about. This is an opportunity for introspection and sweet celebration of the gifts of Advent.
No experience is necessary. All abilities are welcome. There is no cost.  The class will be instructed with participants in chairs, as well as standing, so limited mobility students are welcome also.
Reverend Sam Wilde will lead the class. Sam engages the tools of her 33 year yoga practice, 20 year teaching practice, and 20 year ministry career to create transformational classes for emotional healing, physical vitality and spiritual wholeness. She began her own practice of yoga before she turned ten. Since then, she’s gone on to graduate from Smith College, Yale Divinity School, The New Seminary, and the Kripalu School of Yoga. She has taught thousands of classes. Her oldest student was 107, her youngest a newborn. From the UMass Football Team to Alzheimers patients, she has shared yoga with a huge variety of students. She infuses all of her teaching with her love, humor and perspective of unconditional acceptance.
Any questions feel free to email or call Sam: mumumoyoga@outlook.com, 413-687-7265

Teen Opioid Addiction and Effects of Family Life

Wednesday, October 10, 7pm at West Springfield United Methodist Churchopioid

West Side resident, Kirk Jonah, will discuss his family’s experience in hopes of preventing any more young people from succumbing to the same fate as his son, Jack who passed away in 2016. He hopes to help other parents identify warning signs of opioid abuse and guide them to prepare to be able to handle an addiction before it is too late. If you have teenagers please bring them to hear the discussion. Even if your children are small now this information may be invaluable to you in the future.

All Are Welcome

A Facebook 2X Challenge

FB2X

You know how it goes… you are bored and so you sit there and cruise through your Facebook account… wasting a lot of time, watching stupid videos, and then you come across someone’s posting that you either really like or really hate.  It’s probably a share of some graphic.  If you like it you might click the like button, leave a comment, or maybe even share it to your post.   If you hate it, maybe it is so politically charged that you are saying quietly to yourself “how can so and so be that stupid.”  You then see some comments, that fans the flames and so you do it, you click and comment on how dumb and idea, stupid a comment, how it is all fake stuff… you know the drill… because a little while later you see that someone has replied to your comment with some new tidbit which further infuriates you and off you go again…

I confess, I have fallen down this rabbit hole myself.  Chasing a wild hare around each corner, knowing that I am changing the world with every comment I make!  OK, not really changing the world but I sure am convincing a lot of people about whatever it is I am so ‘correct’ about, that’s certain.  OK, so maybe I haven’t changed anybody’s idea of how the world should work but I feel better because I stood my ground, even if it was just electrons showing up on a screen, sent there by a company that is mining everything I say…

I began to suspect that maybe, there was something wrong with me when I read an article in “The Christian Century” about how partisan politics has become a new form of idolatry.   What?  Idolatry.  It made me stop and think about how much time I waste on social media, thinking I am changing things.  It made me stop and wonder, “am I worshiping something while I am on Facebook?”  Whoa.  It made me think about what I am really doing to “Make Disciples of Christ for the Transformation of the World” by being on Facebook, or Instagram or whatever and getting all wound up by these really inane posts.

It’s time to ‘step away from the keyboard’ as they say, because someone is getting hurt, and it’s me and the rest of the world.  I think I had made an idol out of Facebook.  Yes, and idol as in the biblical reference to “making an idol” like in Exodus 32 and I felt really crappy about it.  I felt like I had let down God and myself.  It really stunk.  I was wasting the very few hours we have in a day, in our lives, posting, commenting, really doing nothing of value and that’s when I decided to challenge myself.

Here’s the 2X challenge:

For every minute on Facebook or whatever your favorite social media site, you have to spend two minutes reading the bible, working on a church project, studying scripture, praying, or some other spiritual effort (volunteering, etc.).  Since most of the time when I am ‘doing Facebook’ is when I am alone, I opted for the studying scripture, praying, and reading the bible.

That started the ball rolling but it wasn’t enough.  So, today (that’s July 16th, 2018) I decided to no longer respond to any political posting.  So if someone shared something awful about the world, no comment, no like, nothing.   I found myself blocking a lot of people at that point and based on my first rule, I also have increased my prayer time and scripture study.

How about you?  Want to really change your life?  Want to actually impact the world?  Take the Facebook 2X challenge above.

Blessings,

Pastor Rick

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