Sunday, January 8, 2017

Pawling Ecumenical Epiphany Walk

The Pawling Ecumenical Epiphany Walk is a unique and wonderful tradition that reflects the spirit of the season and our community. Members of Pawling’s Christian churches and others from our community walk from church to church enjoying a sampling of how each congregation celebrates Christmas and Epiphany.

Isaiah 9:2-7

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
I just love this Epiphany Walk! It brings out the best in our community. It brings people together that might have some real differences to celebrate what they share in common. I think we need that, don’t you?
One thing we all share in common is the incredible, crazy year we’ve just completed! We experienced an election cycle unlike anything our nation has ever seen before. Regardless of who you voted for, there was, and there is still, a lot of fear and uncertainty, discord and strife. But, here we are! We made it through! It’s a new year and, while we may not have a lot of choice as to what happens, we do have a choice as to how we let that impact and affect us. We have a choice: We can choose to be negative, pessimistic, and hopeless, filled with fear, and anger, bitterness, and depression, or we can choose to be positive, resilient, and hopeful, filled with love and compassion, charity, and understanding towards all, whether we agree with them or not.
That’s what one of this town’s most famous residents was all about, wasn’t it? The Power of Positive Thinking? Norman Vincent Peale was right, wasn’t he? People who think positively and hopefully are, generally, happier and content. They are pleasant to be around, and their positivity is positively contagious. Physicians and nurses, whether they are believers or not, testify that patients who remain positive and hopeful do much better, heal quicker, and die more peacefully than those who are negative, pessimistic, and resentful.
I do not know how Dr. Peale would explain the “Why” of this fact. I suspect that he and I might disagree a little, but that’s ok. For me, the reason that those who think positively and remain hopeful even in the face of uncertainty, discord, and strife is because of the object of their faith. You see, if you really think about it, positivity and hopefulness are not states of mind that, if you work really hard, you can conjure up in yourself. No, but positivity and hopefulness are fruits, products, if you will, of faith. Thus, the question is really, “What, or Who, is the object of your faith?” The answer to that question is something that we all share together in common, isn’t it? Jesus. Jesus is the object of our faith. Our common faith in Jesus produces in us the fruits of positivity, contentment, love, peace, joy, and hope.
We live in this world together. We share many of the same concerns and are tempted to have the same fears and anxieties. But, we also share the same Savior: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.”
Jesus was God’s gift at Christmas. Jesus is the gift that keeps on giving, even now. Of what have we to be afraid? The government is upon His shoulders. “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.” “Our help is in the Name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.”
Throughout the Epiphany season we remember and celebrate the manifestation of Jesus as both God and man. God became man in the incarnation, which we celebrated at Christmas; the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. But, the God-Man is revealed in His Words and deeds, in His teaching and miracles. In Jesus Christ, the true Light has entered our world. Even now the darkness of sin and death are receding as the Light conquers darkness. Though we still face darkness in our world and in our lives, we do not walk in darkness, but in the Light of Christ. Once we were darkness, but now we are Light in the Lord. And, we are not like those who have no hope. The Light of Christ shines upon you; let it also shine through you upon the lives of others. Let them see the Light of Christ shining through you that they may join us in the family of Christ. For, the message of Epiphany truly is this: Jesus is for all the world, and you are His Light in the world. Go forth and shine.

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

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