This Sunday we'll celebrate what we in the church call the "Feast of the Epiphany," the official close of the Christmas season. Did you know that ninety (!) percent of people in the US were expected to celebrate Christmas this year? And that our spending on Christmas totaled more than 680 billion dollars? In Canada, if past Christmas statistics give us an indication of how things played out this year, 21.8 million turkeys were raised and 6.5 million poinsettias were grown for Christmas consumption. Retailers expected to make between 20 and 30% of their annual sales.
Christmas is clearly a big deal, culturally and economically, but statistics also tell us that celebrating Jesus' birth is on the decline. Less than half of Americans said in a recent survey that they would celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, a number that has dropped since 2013. I don't report this because it bothers me (I love that we live in a diverse and pluralistic society) but rather because it raises this question: if Christmas can be celebrated just fine by a majority of people without any mention of Jesus, why do we in the church make such a fuss about him? Why do we sing about Jesus "the heaven-born Prince of Peace," and in read about Jesus, God's very "word [who] became flesh and lived among us?" Why do we tell and retell such fantastic stories about him, like the story of the magi (the story we tell at Epiphany) where these great astrologers and philosophers travel far and long and from distant countries to fall to their knees in awe and reverence of this baby, bringing with them offerings fit for a deity?
If there is one thing we can take away from the Christmas season at church it's that Jesus is important to us - world-shaking - but can we say why? Can we give our own answer? If I had to posit an answer I'd say that Jesus is important to us in the church because he reminds us of what is real, and I'll be talking more about this
on Sunday! Hope to see you there as we transition from one season into another!
Rev. Kristin Philipson
Also on Sunday
We will resume Church School this Sunday with Roberta White and Krysty Leckrone teaching. We typically have one combined class for all ages as well as a nursery for children up through Kindergarten age. If we have more than a few youth we are able to have a sermon talk-back time after the sermon with a teacher in the youth lounge.
We will also observe Communion since it is the first Sunday of the month. A "Good Samaritan" envelope (in a new green color) will be stapled to your bulletin for you to make a monthly donation - all Good Sam funds are used to support outreach such as Union Station meals, Bad Weather Shelter, and other needs as they arise. Any amount helps to replenish this much-needed and much-used fund.
We welcome back to our pulpit this week the Rev. Kristin Philipson, a resident of Toronto, Canada who is living in Los Angeles this year with her family. Kristin is ordained in the United Church of Canada and is working on a Doctor of Ministry program. She serves in a local church and is currently on sabbatical from her position.
Opportunities for Service:
See below for articles related to a local Habitat build site, Union Station meals and the Bad Weather Shelter dates coming up. Many thanks to our Alpha Team for serving the meal at Union Station on Jan. 1st (Jennifer Lanski, Regina Meyers, Shelli Nakahama and Jim Maddox)