January 8, 2020

The next celebration after Christmas is Epiphany which occurs on January 6 every year. A date I remember well because it is the birthday of my oldest grandson. Many – maybe most – churches do not celebrate this event but some do. The word comes from Medieval English, old French, Latin and Greek and means ‘an appearance or manifestation of a god or other supernatural being’. ‘Epi’ means upon and ‘phaeinin’ means ‘to show or see’. Matthew 2 speaks of the epiphany when Jesus was brought to the temple and Simeon and Anna both recognized Him immediately as the promised Savior of our sins. The magi came 2 years later and also recognized Him Who was ‘ born King of the Jews’. Most future kings are born as princes or some other title and then, when they are grown, they become king. Jesus was born King. That is the fact that enraged Herod enough to seek and find Him to have Him killed. The magi asked ‘Where is He that is born King of the Jews’. Jesus was also born Savior. Is He a good man – yes; is He a prophet – yes; is He a teacher – yes; is He a miracle worker – yes; but above all else He is a Savior. Why on earth do we need a Savior? We are OK aren’t we? No, we are not. Not in God’s eyes. We are born with the sin of human beings all over us. We can’t become UNsinful. We can’t get rid of that sin nature. If you have children, you know how sinful we are without even being taught. The first words most 2 year olds learn is ‘NO’ or ‘MINE’. We love it when they say, ‘Mama’ or ‘Dada’, but when they begin to say NO to everything, we don’t like it. Rebellion is born in us and we love to rebel. Rebellion is sin. But Jesus came so that He could remove our sin nature from us and replace it with the Righteousness that we all crave for. We want God to love us, we want to know that we are worth something, we want to be in right standing with God and other people, we desire to be loved and accepted. Jesus made that all possible. He led a perfect life because He had the life-blood of God flowing in His veins so that He could become the perfect sacrificial lamb and buy us back by the shedding of His blood on the cross for us.

Well, you ask, what do I have to DO to be loved, accepted, free from my sin? Jesus said, when the disciples asked Him what they had to do He said, “ believe on the One Whom He has sent – that you cleave to, trust, rely on and have faith in His Messenger” (John 6:29 amplified version).” That’s it! We just have to believe! Isn’t that GOOD NEWS!!!! God has done all the ‘work’ through His Son, Jesus and all we have to do is BELIEVE.

On one of those very icy days we had early in December, I was getting my mail from my mail box near highway 87. Suddenly, there was a red truck headed straight for me and a collision seemed imminent! I called out to my Savior (I really didn’t need to rely on my education, my talents, my gifts or anything else at that point – I just needed a SAVIOR!). The truck suddenly took a turn to the right, went down the hill in front of me and crashed through a fence at the bottom of the hill! Thank God my Savior, Jesus, was there to save me. That was dramatic, but daily in small matters and mundane, I need a Savior. Is He your Savior, too? If not, just ask Jesus to be your Savior. He loves you very much. (John 3:16}

Rev. Joyce Kaplan, M.Div, Retired United Church of Christ Pastor


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