From The Bridge, Feb. 2020
By Rev. Julie Sterling
This month our focus with shift from the themes of light to darkness. At this moment we are midway through the season of Epiphany. What started as an announcement of Christ’s birth witnessed by the Wise Men has now shifted to the early stages of Christ’s ministry. We have witnessed his Baptism and call as well as his calling of the first disciples. For Isaiah foretells of the light of Christ as a prophesy to inspire he nations. In Isaiah 49:6b we are told “ I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
The theme of light and darkness will be used often throughout this time of year. In the first chapter of John, we are told that Jesus is the light of the world: 4 What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.
In the Bible light is used to express the concept of goodness or purity while darkness is seen as the reverse. As our month progresses our thoughts will shift from light and hope to sin, humanity, and repentance.
The season of Epiphany is a reminder that Christ’s light is with us, even as the excitement of Christmas has been boxed up for another year. As we hear the story of Jesus early ministry we are reminded of who the Christ child has grown to be and while also preparing for his Lenten journey to the cross. During uncertain times it is good to know that still Christ’s light shines brightly. Also, as we start our Lenten Journey on Ash Wednesday with the imposition of ashes, it is good to have the light of Christ to illumine our path. For as we hear the words of Genesis 3:19 “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” we reflect on our own humanity, and Christ’s light reminds us of a new life with him.
Brothers and sisters, remember that we are called by God to be a light to those in darkness. As we prepare ourselves for the Lenten Season, remember shine your faith for others to witness the presence of Jesus in your life. The world needs all the light it can get. Your light and love can mend this sinful and broken world.
Rev. Julie Sterling
by Rev. Julie Sterling
As I sit down to write this article today, the Christmas season is in its final stretch. The office is at a state of organized disorganization. The final tweaks are being put on the Christmas Eve service bulletin and articles are trickling in for the Bridge. With all the busyness of this week, it finally sinks in that the New Year is just a few weeks away. Boy, this year has gone by fast!
As I glance at my morning devotions, I wonder what blessings will 2020 bring us? What challenges meet our congregation long after budgets have been set and plans made? Whatever meets us in 2020 we know that we are not alone in this and God has a plan.
The Revised Common Lectionary gives us a wonderful gift for January 1st. The Epistle reading comes from Revelation and gives us a hopeful start to the year.
1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; 4 he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” 5And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”
Friends, as I think of the coming year I am excited about the possibilities for this church. Our church leadership is working together on transformational training to help our church revitalize in the coming year. The Matthew 25 Initiative will also help us consider new ways to minister to “the least of these” in our community and consider our relevance to our neighbors. I know that there will be changes but there are always changes with growth. I do believe that God has a hand in all of this, transforming us the church of his desire. As God promises a new heaven and new earth, let us work together to make the best of this world here and now. Remember, all we have and all we are belong to God. Let your hope be a guide for the New Year so other can witness to a future life with God. Blessings to each and every one in the New Year. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for 2020!
Blessings, Rev. Julie Sterling