Worship Preview 1.7.24 - Epiphany!
This Weekend: 10:30am - Epiphany Sunday
Scriptures -Isaiah 60:1-6, Matthew 2, Acts 8:26-40
The wise still seek him! As the Christmas season comes to a close with the 12th day, January 6th is the festival of Epiphany. The word "epiphany," from the Greek word epiphania, means appearance or manifestation. We often think of it as a moment of new insight or awareness – “A-Ha!” The arrival of these visitors was a sign that the incarnation of God in Christ had been made known and was recognized by the heavens to the whole world, so that even Gentile wise men from the East came to pay him homage. This is an observance of great majesty, solemnity, and awe. After the late fourth century, as Advent developed as a season of baptismal preparation in addition to Lent, Epiphany became associated with baptism. This is why we see images of the three Magi on many older baptismal fonts. And, as we talked about last week, the early Christians gathered around tables as a shared meal – this First Sunday of the new year, as is our tradition each First Sunday, we will again celebrate Holy Communion – extending Christ’s table to all who come. These two sacraments each teach us about who we are as the body of Christ, the church.
To help us encounter these stories and traditions more deeply and explore how they connect to our journey today, we will also hear an unexpected story of baptism from Acts 8. Both Philip and the Ethiopian experience an epiphany – an “ah-ha” moment! What is to prevent us from entering more fully into the wonder and mystery of Christ and sharing it with others all year long? Nothing!
Join us this week (and next!), coming just as you are with your doubts, questions, and hopes as we enter into 2024 with joy! You can find out more about our congregation and what to expect when you visit by at www.firstumcfsks.org/newvisitors.
Wednesday, January 10th, 5:30–6:30pm: Feeding Families in His Name – this weekly free meal is available to everyone without obligation. A “to-go” meal is distributed under the portico at 301 S. National. A reminder: Please do not block nearby driveways while waiting. Thank you. If you would like to support this ministry, you can make donations online at www.firstumcfortscott.org/onlinegiving
Sunday, January 14th we will commemorate the Baptism of Christ and share an interactive ritual I call 3 Basins. During the service, we will each be invited to move between 3 stations – one is Pilate’s basin, where we remember Pilate’s attempt to wash his hands of responsibility for Jesus’ crucifixion and will reflect on our own choices and rationalizations. Next, we will visit the Remembrance basin – remembering (or anticipating) our Baptism and the gift of God’s grace that surrounds and equips us, waiting for us to respond! Finally, we will visit the Servant’s basin – when we respond to the gift of grace, we grow in love and express that love in ministry. How are you called to ministry in 2024?
Thursday, February 8th – United Women in Faith will have their first meeting of 2024 on at 1:30pm in the Parlor. Jean Tucker will present a program and all women of the church and community are invited!
Wednesday, February 14th – Ash Wednesday falls on Valentines Day this year. All are welcome as we begin Lent with our 7pm service featuring imposition of ashes and some history on St. Valentine.