Epiphany of the Lord - January 6th, 2021
“Epiphany means manifestation or revelation. Epiphany is celebrated on January 6th each year (but may also be observed on the Sunday before or the Sunday after). Epiphany is a day to celebrate the manifestation of God’s saving purpose to the world. Just as the magi came from a distant land to worship the Christ child, God’s covenant of grace is extended to all people who believe the good news of Jesus Christ. The symbolism of light is important—not only because of the star that guided the magi but as it suggests the dawning of God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ. As Christians, we are called to bear Christ’s light in the world.”
--From the Book of Common Worship, Daily Prayer Edition, page 119.
As we turn the page on the 2020 calendar year, I find myself renewed, refreshed, and optimistic. I truly believe that better days are ahead of us.
I am looking forward to worshipping together on Sunday, January 10th. We will resume in person worship together at 9:30 a.m. Please know that we are still following the session’s “COVID-19 Preparedness Plan.” This means that we are still encouraging folks to stay home if they are sick (or if they prefer), to wash hands often, and to maintain social distance. We will also continue to offer worship online at 10:30 a.m. on Zoom and through the church’s Facebook page. Please take advantage of the opportunity to worship through technology.
This Sunday, we will celebrate Epiphany. We will celebrate that the light of Christ has come to us. We will hear the story of the three magi from the East who travelled to Bethlehem to present gifts to the Christ child. Above all, we will seek God’s light for us today and prayerfully ask that God’s light will dwell within us.
One of the things that I recently learned and wanted to share with you is that there is an old Epiphany tradition known as “chalking the doors.” According to this tradition, faithful Christians write the letter “CMB” and the numbers of the current year, separated by crosses, over the doors of their homes and churches. For example: “20 + C + M + B + 21” or “C + M + B + 2021.”
The letters stand for the names of the magi (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar) or the Latin phrase Christus mansionem benedicat, which means “Bless this house.”
Here is a prayer that can be said when “chalking the doors.”
God of doors and homes, bless this home this year and every year. Bless all who come and go through this door, both those who live here and those who visit. May all who enter through this door come in peace and bring joy. May all who come to this door find welcome and love. May the love and joy in this home overflow and spread into the community and the world. And may Jesus the Christ watch over us all. Amen.
During worship on January 10, 2021, we will be "chalking the doors" in the sanctuary in hopes that God will bless our spiritual home. I hope to see you then.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Dear Friends –
If you read the 11th chapter of the book of Hebrews, you will find the phrase “by faith” repeated over and over again. This chapter is retelling the story of Genesis through the lens of faith. “By faith, Abel offered to God…” “By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death…” “By faith Noah…built an ark to save his household.” “By faith Abraham obeyed…” “By faith Moses was hidden by his parents…”
We are shaped by the faith of the people who go before us. We don’t always see what their faith looked like, but we do see the fruits of their faith. The history of Community Presbyterian Church includes incredibly faithful people. One such person is the Reverend Henry Willard, founding pastor.
According to our history, a Congregational church group depended upon circuit rider preachers “for its sermons until one Sunday afternoon in September, 1863, when the Rev. Henry Willard delivered a sermon at the Plainview schoolhouse. He was prevailed upon to come to Plainview to organize a church. The Plainview Congregational Church (which became Community Presbyterian Church in 1936) was organized on October 7, 1863 with 28 charter members. Reverend Willard remained with the church until 1885 and received 257 new members into the congregation during his pastorate.”
I would love the opportunity to go back in time to have a conversation with Reverend Willard and ask him about what he saw in Plainview that caused him to start a church. What faith he must have had! And I would also like to ask the people who heard him preach and decided to call Reverend Willard as their founding pastor. What faith they must have had!
Using the book of Hebrews for inspiration, we could say, “By faith, Henry Willard came to Plainview to begin a church.” By faith…
We could, of course, add to this story. “By faith, a church was built and dedicated in 1871.” “By faith, the Ladies Aid was formed in 1884 to provide support and fellowship.” “By faith, a church basement was added in 1955.” “By faith…”
What about you? How would you finish the sentence: “By faith…”
I am convinced that Plainview still needs Community Presbyterian Church and I believe that God is not done shaping and guiding us. Can you imagine what future generations will say about us?
This note was written on October 7th, 2020 – exactly 157 years after the founding of Community Presbyterian Church. Isn’t it amazing how the faith of those who have gone before us continues to be a blessing to us?