January 21, 2020
Longing for light, we wait in darkness.
Longing for truth, we turn to you.
Make us your own, your holy people,
light for the world to see.

Christ, be our light!
Shine in our hearts.
Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in your church gathered today.
[Evangelical Lutheran Worship #715]
The assigned lectionary readings for January 26, 2020 The Third Sunday after the Epiphany, are as follows:
I begin with an apology. Last week I failed to mention that our offices would be closed, since it was the Monday after a Synod Council meeting. Thus this week's musing is a day late. We call this the Tuesday edition.
In January of 2015, my wife, Linda, and I were in Germany as part of the Bishops' Academy. Everywhere we went, I was fascinated by the ubiquitous presence of Moravian stars. These stunning, illuminated star-shaped lanterns, most commonly having 26-points, made for such great photos, that I could have taken hundreds of them. I'm sharing only four of the several I took, but there are plenty more where these came from.

According to traditional accounts, the first Moravian star originated in the 1830s at a Moravian Boys' School in Niesky, Germany, most probably as a geometry lesson or project. But over the years it has come to represent the star of Bethlehem, and its popularity has proliferated throughout the world, even in areas without a Moravian Church presence.
This star is symbolic of the star of promise, the star of fulfillment, the star of hope.
We are in the season of Epiphany, the season of light. It is the perfect antidote to the month of January because it is easier to be depressed in January than in just about any other month. I believe I've mentioned previously that I am one of millions who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, a mild form of depression brought on by the lack of sunlight in the winter months. Perhaps that is why I'm so drawn to the star.
During the month of January daylight increases by a few minutes each day. Thankfully, our government, supposedly as an energy saving feature, has helped speed up that process by rewarding us with Daylight Savings Time sometime in early Spring.
Over the next several weeks our Lectionary readings will dwell on that theme of light, as they gradually reveal not only the person of Jesus, but the nature and character of Jesus as God's beloved Son, or God-with-us.
That gradual revelation began with the star that led the Magi to the infant Jesus. At the baptism of our Lord, the Spirit landed on Jesus in the form of a dove and a voice from Heaven declared him God's son. The season will climax with the Transfiguration of Our Lord just before the beginning of Lent.
It is also hoped that through our reading we will grow in our understanding of who Jesus is. This week, we hear a reading from Isaiah that we most often associate with Christmas:
The people who walked in darkness
   have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness-
   on them light has shined.
[Isaiah 9:2]
Matthew's Gospel reinterprets the prophet's words to justify Jesus' role as the light for the world and, in Matthew's words, "so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled."
And Psalm 27 begins with the words:
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
[Psalm 27:1]
God's presence is the light which chases away the shadows of despair. As Jesus goes throughout the region of Galilee teaching in the area's synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of his kingdom, and curing all kinds of diseases and sicknesses among the inhabitants, he fulfills the words of the prophet Isaiah. On these people the great Light of his Life is dawning!
However, when we ponder the realities of our current world, with all its discomfort, distrust, and divisiveness, it is infinitely far easier to become discouraged. We come face to face with one of the core questions of our faith: What is the nature of our Christian hope?
The answer comes by trusting in God's presence, knowing that Jesus is in control, that it is He who is the light in every dark corner of our life. We can cease being intimidated by the unknown, or frightened by the darkness of life. The doom of depression is expelled by the light of the Gospel.
This carryover message will be repeated throughout the next several weeks, so bear with us. Rostered leaders, please remember that it's time to complete your annual reports. I do read these reports and respond as appropriate. It is also a way for us, as rostered leaders, to maintain some sense of accountability. The link and instructions will be available on our Wednesday e-news, or you can access the form by clicking HERE.
Also, Congregational reports are also due. I would ask your help in improving our response rate. Last year, 71% of our congregations submitted reports. That is a slight improvement over the previous year, but still significantly below the churchwide average, which is 78.1%
These reports are important for a couple of reasons:
  1. The voting member allocation for the 2022 Churchwide Assembly will be based on the reports received this coming year, so those filed in the coming year will have a direct effect on our voting member allocation.
  2. The congregational report is like a diagnostic tool, like blood pressure or temperature taken in a doctor's office. The report is not the full picture, not a good indicator of a congregation's activities or the quality of its ministry, but it can help us to ask more questions. Annual reports such as these are used by Planning, Research, and Evaluation staff to help the churchwide organization see where the church is today and what trends are developing.
These forms can be filed online at , or by clicking HERE .
Sunday, you are invited to the Ordination and Installation of Andrew Potsko, who has been called to serve St. Stephen Martyr Lutheran Church in Canton, as Pastor of Congregational Outreach and Mission. The service begins at 4:00 p.m. Rostered leaders are invited to vest and process. The color of the Day is RED.
This week and always, may you dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of your life; to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek God in the temple.
[Adapted from Psalm 27]
+Bishop Abraham Allende