January ~ 2014
A reading from the Wisdom of Robert Killam
“To our ancestors in a far-off time, all nature was a mystery. Everywhere were spirits and demons and gods, beings to be feared and worshipped. But the greatest were the gods of the heavens, the sun, and the moon, and the stars….And … up there, in the starry firmament, surely there must [the Creator of all] dwell, and there must prayers be sent. And when the heavens change, and a new star is born, to burn bright–this surely is a sign, a sign to draw shepherds and Wise [Ones], even from the East, to worship a newborn child.
Today, the heavens are not so mysterious as they were then. Our magi, the astronomers, say that the Star of Bethlehem was really a dying star, whose bright death-fire was a gleam in our sky for a few weeks, and then went out. But the Star has really remained, whatever our modern magi say. For its meaning to us will never pass away, and its light will never die out. Its message is the same tonight as it was twenty centuries ago: “Peace on Earth, Good Will toward all people.” And we see it now as they saw it then, and still follow it.”
A reading from the Gospel According to Matthew
(Mt. 2.1-12, JB Phillips New Testament)
1-2 Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in Judea, in the days when Herod was king of the province. Not long after his birth there arrived from the east a party of astrologers making for Jerusalem and enquiring as they went, “Where is the child born to be king of the [Jewish nation]? For we saw his star in the east and we have come here to pay homage to him.”
3-6 When King Herod heard about this he was deeply perturbed…So he summoned all the Jewish scribes and chief priests together and asked where [the “messiah”] should be born. Their reply was: “In Bethlehem, in Judea, for this is what the prophet (Micah) wrote about the matter—‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel’.”
7-8 Then Herod invited the [Eastern astrologers] to meet him privately and found out from them the exact time when the star appeared. Then he sent them off to Bethlehem saying, “When you get there, search for this little child with the utmost care. And when you have found him come back and tell me—so that I may go and [revere] him too.”
9-10 The [astrologers] listened to the king and then went on their way to Bethlehem. And now the star, which they had seen in the east, went in front of them as they traveled until at last it shone immediately above the place where the little child lay. The sight of the star filled them with indescribable joy.
11-12 So they went into the house and saw the little child with his mother Mary. And they fell on their knees and [adored] him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts—gold, incense and myrrh. Then, since they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back to their own country by a different route.
The Wisdom of Frank Richelieu
(The Art of Being Yourself)
Jesus taught that we should not put our hand to the plow and look back…What is a plow for? It is for breaking up the old, hard ground and preparing it for renewal. If we are trying to plow ahead of us and are looking back over our shoulder, what kind of furrow will we plow? When you are ready to break up the crystallized ideas in your mind and prepare your consciousness for newness, do not look back. Look ahead. Jesus said we cannot expand while looking back and holding on to the old at the same time. We must let go of that which is behind us. We are here to grow and move ahead.
A reading from the Gospel According to Matthew
(Mt. 3.13-17, NRSV)
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ 15But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then [John] consented. 16And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is [the one of my choosing] * with whom I am well pleased.’
The Wisdom of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
(excerpt from Letter from Birmingham Jail)
“How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? …Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an “I-it” relationship for an “I-thou” relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and awful.”
A reading from the Gospel of Thomas
Jesus said, “If your leaders say to you, ‘Look, the Kingdom of God is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom of God is inside you and outside you. When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living God.
A reading from the Fourth Gospel
(John 1.32-33, GNT)
John [the baptizer] gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and stay on [Jesus]. 33 I still did not know that he was the [promised] one, but God, who sent me to baptize with water, had said to me, ‘You will see the Spirit come down and stay on a man; he is the one who baptizes with the holy Spirit.’
A reading from the Psalter
(Ps. 27.1, 4, 6)
1God is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? God is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
4One thing have I asked of God, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of God all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of God, and to inquire in the temple.
6 And now my head shall be lifted up…and I will offer in God’s tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to God.
A reading from the Wisdom of Lisa Nichols
“Every single thing you’ve been through, every single moment that you’ve come through, were to all prepare you for this moment right now. Imagine what you can do from this day forward with what you know…How much more do you get to be? How many people more people do you get to bless, simply by your existence?…No one else can dance your dance, no one else can sing you song, no one else can write your story. Who you are, what you do, begins right now!”
A reading from the gospel according to Matthew
(Mt 4.12-14, 16, NIV)
12When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee. 13Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum…14to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:
16the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.”