Rector's Message: Saturday, 9 January 2021
Updated: Jan 23, 2021
SUNDAY, 10 January
First Sunday after the Feast of the Epiphany
Included in today's update: History of the Feast of the Epiphany, Birthdays in the Week Ahead, Request for Volunteers, Liturgical Calendars, YOGA Resumes, Winter Book Group Starting, Creative Angels Recipe & Craft, and Ongoing Updates
FROM THE RECTOR
Saturday,9 January 2021
Welcome to what some liturgical scholars call "the forgotten season," the season of Epiphany. This church season begins each year on January 6th, The Feast of the Epiphany, and lasts until Ash Wednesday ushers in the season of Lent (this year, Ash Wednesday falls on February 17th).
The Feast of the Epiphany of our Lord Jesus Christ is one of the oldest Christian feasts, though, throughout the centuries, it has celebrated a variety of things. The word, Epiphany, comes from a Greek verb meaning "to reveal," and all of the various events and Gospel readings on both the Feast Day, as well as the following Sundays of the Epiphany season, are revelations of Christ to man.
History of the Feast of the Epiphany
Like many of the most ancient Christian feasts, Epiphany was first celebrated in the East, where it has been held from the beginning almost universally on January 6. Today, among both Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, the feast is known as “Theophany” - the revelation of God to man.
Epiphany: A Fourfold Feast
Epiphany originally celebrated four different events, in the following order of importance: the Baptism of the Lord; Christ's first miracle, the changing of water into wine at the wedding in Cana; the Nativity of Christ; and the visitation of the Wise Men or Magi. Each of these is a revelation of God to man: At Christ's Baptism, the Holy Spirit descends and the voice of God the Father is heard, declaring that Jesus is His Son; at the wedding in Cana, the miracle reveals Christ's divinity; at the Nativity, the angels bear witness to Christ, and the shepherds, representing the people of Israel, bow down before Him; and at the visitation of the Magi, Christ's divinity is revealed to the Gentiles - the other nations of the earth.
The End of Christmastide
Eventually, the celebration of the Nativity was separated out, in the West, into Christmas; and shortly thereafter, Western Christians adopted the Eastern feast of the Epiphany, still celebrating the Baptism, the first miracle, and the visit from the Wise Men. Thus, Epiphany came to mark the end of Christmastide - the Twelve Days of Christmas (celebrated in the song), which began with the revelation of Christ to Israel in His Birth and ended with the revelation of Christ to the Gentiles at Epiphany. Over the centuries, the various celebrations were further separated in the West, and now the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated on the Sunday after January 6, and the wedding at Cana is commemorated on the Sunday after the Baptism of the Lord.
Stars. Candles. Gifts. Playing on the Greek verb meaning "to reveal," or "to shed light," the Church often uses stars and candles as symbols of the season. And, of course, the star and the Wise Men's gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh are also major elements in the story of the Magi.
In many parts of Europe, the celebration of Epiphany is at least as important as the celebration of Christmas. While in England and her historical colonies, the custom has long been to give gifts on Christmas Day itself, in Italy and other Mediterranean countries, Christians exchange gifts on Epiphany - the day on which the Wise Men brought their gifts to the Christ Child. In Northern Europe, the two traditions have often been combined, with gift-giving on both Christmas and Epiphany (often with smaller gifts on each of the twelve days of Christmas in between). In the past, though, the main gift-giving day in both Northern and Eastern Europe was usually the feast of Saint Nicholas.
May your year ahead be filled with health, happiness and hope!
Blessings! Peace! Grace! And Love!
BIRTHDAYS IN THE WEEK AHEAD
O God, our times are in your hands: Look with favor, we pray, on these your servants as they begin another year. Grant that they may grow in wisdom and grace, and strengthen their trust in your goodness all the days of their life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A REQUEST FOR VOLUNTEERS
With Sue Phillips’ retirement as of December 31st, we are now without a Parish Administrator in the Church Office; and due to budget constraints, it is not anticipated that a new Administrator will be hired for 6 months. So, the Rector could use some help! (Are you thinking: True words!) If you could occasionally spare a few hours to be in the Church Office, answering phones, preparing mailings, and performing other odd jobs, it would be a huge help. We are hoping for enough volunteers to fill a schedule that allows each person only having to serve once every 2-3 weeks. Hours: 9:00am-1:00pm, Monday through Thursday. If interested, or if you have questions, please contact the Rector: 215-699-9204; firstname.lastname@example.org.
2021 LITURGICAL CALENDARS ARE HERE
As they have done for the past several years, William R. May Funeral Home, located on Main Street in North Wales, has provided the parish with liturgical calendars. These calendars feature the liturgical colors of the various church seasons, note Holy Days and Saints’ Days, and the readings assigned for each Sunday. The calendars are free and are available in the church office.
YOGA CLASSES RESUME
Now that the holidays are over, you might be feeling a bit sluggish; or perhaps you made a resolution to get in better shape; or maybe you’re just curious. Whatever the reason, you are invited to join in the weekly yoga sessions being offered by Diana Mulroy. The sessions are being offered in a virtual format, so it makes it easy and safe to participate. Classes are $10.00/session, and all proceeds benefit the outreach projects supported by Belfry Bargains. Sessions are Monday and Wednesday evenings at 6:30pm; and Thursday mornings, 9:30am. Diana notes: “If there is a different tine that might work better for you, email me and I’ll try to add it.” Contact Diana (email@example.com; 267-481-6091) to register or for more information.
At a time such as this –
join a winter book discussion via Zoom beginning THURSDAY JANUARY 21, 2021 at 2:00 p.m.
Unafraid: Living with Courage
and Hope in Uncertain Times
“You’d be hard-pressed to overstate the extent to which fear, anxiety, and worry permeate our lives today. Fear wreaks havoc on our relationships and communities. It leads us into making bad decisions. It holds us back from the very pursuits that promise fulfillment and joy.”
REVEREND ADAM HAMILTON is senior pastor of the Church of the Resurrection outside Kansas City, the largest and most influential United Methodist congregation in the United States. He is a leading voice for reconciliation and church renewal in mainstream Christianity, and the author of twenty-five books. He has seen the cost of fear up close. When he surveyed his congregation on how fear affects them, 2,400 people responded - and what they said was eye-opening. Eighty percent admitted to living with moderate or significant levels of fear.
Unafraid is Hamilton's insightful and impassioned response. Drawing on recent research, inspiring real-life examples, and fresh biblical insight, Hamilton uses a mixture of facts and faith to help readers understand and counter fears related to such outsize perils as death and illness, as well as the everyday anxieties all of us encounter. He invites us to:
Face our fears with a bias of hope
Examine our fears in light of the facts
Attack our anxieties with action
Release our cares to God
His book shows us how we can develop sustaining spiritual practices and embrace Jesus’s recurring counsel: “Do not be afraid.” For anyone struggling with fear or wondering how families and communities can thrive in troubled times, Unafraid offers an informed and inspiring message full of practical solutions.” (Amazon.com)
Amazon – Hardcover - $16.79; Kindle - $11.09
ON THE WEBSITE
Check the website each weekend for the video of the Sunday service. And make it interactive by checking out the service bulletin with all the responses, lessons, and weekly updates and information. A copy of the Sunday sermon is also available.
YOUTH OF MESSIAH CONTINUE
TO COLLECT NEW SWEATPANTS
Advocates for Homeless & Those in Need (AHTN) is a Bucks County interfaith non-profit that serves the homeless and those in need by providing access to emergency shelter, food and other life-sustaining services. They are in desperate need of new sweatpants in all sizes to be distributed to homeless women and men who live in tent camps in the woods throughout the county. Collection bins are located outside the Rector’s office.
Some people have ordered items online and had them sent directly to the church, which is perfectly fane and eliminates the need to shop in crowded stores. And the 12-step groups that meet here at the church have also contributed items. Thank you to everyone who has donated to this worthy cause!
PARISH ROOF REPLACEMENT APPEAL
In periods of heavy rain, quite a bit of water now enters the Parish Hall, even making its way into the basement rooms, damaging floors, walls and ceilings along the way. Inspection of the roof shows that spot repair is no longer possible; the entire roof now needs replacement. As any homeowner can attest, repairs like these rarely come as a total surprise, but never at an opportune time. And yet, the project demands that a way be found to accomplish it.
Cost for the project totals $125,000.00. Following advice from the investment committee, the vestry has unanimously endorsed a financial plan consisting of:
withdrawing $40,000.00 from the endowment;
a $50,000.00 loan from the diocese at only 2% interest for 5 years;
and an appeal to fund the remaining $35,00.00 from members of the congregation. In less than a month, we have raised $55,440.00 toward this goal! WOW!! THANK YOU!! Funds raised above the stated $35K goal will ease the needs imposed by the endowment withdrawal and diocesan loan.
We are asking you and your household to prayerfully consider a financial donation to meet this important need. Work will begin soon, before any further damage is done to the interior spaces of the building.
If making a donation by check: Please make check payable to: Church of the Messiah; include Roof Replacement on memo line of your check.
You can also make your donation electronically using TitheLy: Go to the church website: messiahgwynedd.org; click the DONATE button; in the “TO” field, scroll down and choose: Roof Replacement.
If you are unable to make a donation at the current time, but wish to make a pledge for future giving, please complete and return the form enclosed in the parish mailing or notify the Church Office (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thank you for whatever assistance you can give toward this important parish project!
2021 STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN
& BUDGET UPDATE
To date, 123 pledges have been received, totaling $363,840.00. This significantly trails last year’s totals of 160 pledges, totaling $457,305.00.
There are at least 35 households who pledged last year that we have yet to hear from. The vestry asks that you please complete and return your pledge card ASAP in order for the 2021 parish operating budget to be prepared. If you have not returned your completed card, please do so ASAP. If you did not receive a pledge card, have misplaced or need a new pledge card, please contact the church office in the coming week and one will be provided.
With this large gap in pledges of nearly $90,000.00, coupled with the recent decision by Kids Unlimited, the day care that rented our downstairs since 2003, to close their operation, this will present a terrific hardship for Messiah to maintain programs and staff in the coming year.
2021 OFFERING ENVELOPES
AVAILABLE FOR PICKUP
If you currently use weekly offering envelopes for your pledge, you will again receive envelopes for the coming year. Envelopes are now available for pickup, located on a table in the hallway outside the Rector’s office. Questions: please contact the bookkeeper Sarah Patram email@example.com; or the church office. Thanks!
Happy New Year, everyone! The holidays are over, decorations are coming down and are being put away. We’re looking forward to a healthier and more social 2021! What would be better on a cold winter evening than a tasty turkey breast dinner? Mary Jo Melberger shared her recipe for crock pot turkey breast with her book group, recently. Here it is for you to enjoy!
Turkey Breast in the Crockpot
6 lb bone in, skin on turkey breast
4 Tablespoons butter, softened- dotted over breast
1 onion quartered on bottom of pot
3/4 cup chicken broth
4 bay leaves
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 Tablespoon sage
1 Tablespoon rosemary
1 Tablespoon thyme
Mix garlic powder, sage, onion powder, rosemary and thyme together. Rub this mixture over the turkey breast. Try to get some under the skin. Sprinkle breast with salt and pepper. Place breast in crockpot. Insert a meat thermometer into the fullest part of the breast, not touching the bone. Cook on high for about a half hour, then turn to low. Cook for about 4 hours to internal temperature of 165 degrees. When breast is finished, it may be placed under the broiler for 4-5 minutes to brown, if desired. Enjoy!
Now for an idea of a craft your family can make to help our bird friends from getting hungry!
Mason Jar Lid Bird Feeder
(For a dozen feeders)
1/2 cup Cheerios
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3 1/2 cups wild bird seed
3 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1 envelope gelatin
1/2 cup water
12 Mason Jar lids
Mix all pantry items together thoroughly (including bird seed)
Knot tie your twine onto the 12 lids.
Make sure strings are long enough to tie on trees. Lay lids on a piece of parchment paper. Pile birdseed mixture into lids. “Smush” it down and even out with your hands. (It will be sticky!). Allow to sit overnight on paper before hanging. Simply tie filled lids onto a branch or other location in the yard. Enjoy the birds!!!