Worship at Home for January 8, 2023

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we will be celebrating two important events in the life of Jesus. The first is Epiphany which celebrates the day that the magi arrived in Judea to honor the recently born King of the Jews. The other is the Baptism of Christ when we recognize that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. If you cannot join us for worship, you may wish to remember your baptism using the prayers included in this mailing.

If you would like a home visit, conversation, or home communion, please call me at 573-437-2779 (church).

  • Please stay after worship today to put away the Christmas Decorations.
  • Celebration of Ministry for Pastor Jeff Remelius at St. John’s UCC at Bem Sunday, January 8 at 3pm.
  • Church Council meeting on Monday, January 9 at 6:30pm
    We are looking for new council members. If you would like to serve, let a current council member know.
  • Bell Choir on Wednesday at 4:15pm & Choir Practice at 7pm
  • Confirmation on Wednesday at 6:30pm
  • Community Forum with Compass Health on Thursday, January 19 at 7pm
  • Congregational Annual Meeting on Sunday, January 22 after worship followed by a Potluck and Games
  • Pub Theology at M. Clancy’s on Thursday, January 26 at 6:30

Blessings,

Pastor Stephanie DeLong

Scripture for Epiphany: Isaiah 60:1-6, Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14, Ephesians 3:1-12, Matthew 2:1-12

Scripture for the Baptism of Christ: Isaiah 42:1-9, Psalm 29, Acts 10:34-43, Matthew 3:13-17

Though the Bible never says that the wisemen were kings, I still love this song.

Sermon: Beloved

Jesus is the beloved Son of God. His entrance in the world was marked by singing angels and worshipping shepherds. A star rose in the sky and was observed by wise men from the East who traveled far to pay homage to Jesus. Since the wise men had been traveling for a long time, Jesus was no longer a baby in the manger, but a small toddler. To mark this passage of time, the arrival of the wise men (magi) is celebrated twelve days after Christmas on January 6.

As much as I love the carol “We Three Kings of Orient Are”, there is no indication that these men were kings. They were not at the manger scene with the shepherds. Matthew 2:11 tells us that the men found the child in the house with Mary and knelt to pay him homage. The idea that they were kings paying respect to the King comes from the gifts that they brought, gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

These men did encounter a king who claimed to the political puppet title, King of the Jews, Herod. King Herod met with the wise men and after calling scholars together, gave them directions. The directions were good, but Herod’s intentions were not. God warned the wise men in a dream and sent them home by a way that did not encounter Herod again. Jesus was beloved by the wise men.

This Christmas season many people made journeys to be with those they love. A severe winter storm upset many travel plans. Many airline travelers entered a period of confusion, chaos, and frustration as Southwest Airlines operations completely melted down. The boys and I witnessed part of this meltdown firsthand as we waited for our Southwest Airlines flight to Jacksonville on Monday, December 26. When we arrived at the Southwest Airlines terminal at Lambert Airport, we encountered an extremely long line of people. These were travelers with cancelled flights waiting to speak to a ticket agent to rebook.

We checked our bags and went through security without any trouble. Our flight kept getting delayed until eventually it was cancelled. We too were told to get in that long line that never moved. We chose to try and retrieve our baggage instead and went to baggage claim to see the piles of unclaimed luggage. Thankfully the baggage handlers at Lambert saw the chaos and chose to return the luggage to those on the cancelled Jacksonville flight. We got our bags back! We wisely gave up on rebooking our flight and went on our journey another way, we drove.

The airline meltdown caused me to reflect on how human systems that work under normal conditions can crumble into disorder like a house of cards or a row of standing dominos. I have to say that everyone we encountered was pleasant even in their frustration with the situation. I wonder how many times the wise men had to reroute and extend their journey before arriving to worship Jesus. I admire their persistence and willingness to listen to their dreams about going another way. The wisemen were beloved by God.

We all long to be loved for who we are. God longs to love us as God’s beloved. Being loved by God does not mean that our lives are easy. Being loved by God gives us the strength and courage to live our lives as God’s beloved children. When we encounter difficulties in our life’s journeys, we need to remember the wise men and their persistence. We need to remember that Jesus as God’s beloved Son did not have the easiest of lives, but God empowered him to love and care for all.

On this day we recall Jesus’ baptism and that God called Jesus the Beloved Son. Today we will recall our own baptisms and remember that we are beloved by God.

 

Prayer:
Renewal “I am God’s Beloved. I am Baptized.” By Cheryl Lindsey

John the Baptist told his disciples that he baptized them with water but the one to come would baptize with the Holy Spirit. As we receive the mark of our renewed baptismal vows, we recognize the movement of the Holy Spirit within us and among.

If you are worshipping at home: Please dip your finger in the water and make the sign of the cross on your forehead repeating these words: I am God’s beloved. I am baptized.”

Prayer for the Baptized

Voice, Body, Spirit, we give thanks for the gathering of your people into a beloved community of belonging. By our baptism, we accept the invitation to public and faithful witness to the ministry of Jesus Christ in the world and to be instruments to that work. May we live the baptized life in the Spirit as caring companions of one another, with accountability, support, and grace. Shelter us in your love, nourish us in your truth, and uphold us in your word. May it be so. Amen.

Prayer list: Elizabeth, Cheryl, Dave, David, Ken and Evelyn, Jason, Paulette, Bobby, Kevin, Jim, Darryl (doing better!), Marilee, Beverly, Jim, Jenny, Jaqueline-Dixon’s daughter, Barbara, Melvin, Mitchell, Mahala, Maybelle and Mary, La Rae, Bud, Bob, Ruth, Tyra, Ed, Marilyn, Tom, Jeff, Ken’s mom and for peace in troubled and war-torn places.

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