Scriptures for January 3 – Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12. Songs: Gather us in – TFWS 2236, Star-Child – TFWS 2095; I want to walk as a Child of the Light – UMH 206
Ephesians: Paul suffered a lot in the name of the gospel. He was beaten, run out of town and put into prison. But for Paul these were all good things. These things made him not only a stronger person, but a better Christian. Paul started his career as a Jew, as someone who persecuted Christians. But he became the apostle to the gentiles. Anyone who was not a Jew, was considered a gentile. Paul believed that it was a “mystery” that gentiles were a part of the family of God. Today, we have managed to separate ourselves in so many different ways – and Paul reminds us that it really doesn’t matter – we are united in Christ. We too can look beyond our differences to see who Christ calls us to be.
Matthew: This is Epiphany Sunday – the day when it all comes together and it seems to make sense or does it? We have no way of knowing who these guys were who came to visit Jesus, or even why they came. The important thing is that they came – and that they are a part of the gospel message. They were “gentiles” who wanted the savior to know that they too were indeed in need of salvation, that they too could say thank you. And they too would carry the gospel message on so that others could see it.
Questions: Why are there so many Christian denominations? Will there ever be one true church? How do we begin the task of uniting? What if the wise men had never come to visit Jesus? Would the story be any different for us? How do we identify with people of other religions to bring them into the family of God?