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Christopher Caudle

Christopher Caudle

Even

September 7th, 2018 by
Hanging pictures is best done by a team of two.  One person shifts the wire on the back of the picture to the left or right until it finds a magical (mythical) midpoint where the picture will hang evenly.

But the second person is also essential. They have to stand back and from a distance that can take in the whole picture and the things around it, declare whether or not the picture is, in fact, even.

These jobs seem like magic to me.

Its hard to know how much of an adjustment is necessary for role one to succeed. A little to the left. Back a bit the other way. No, that’s too much. Almost. The opportunity to correct and overcorrect when sliding the wire along the nail is a blind challenge.

The second role involves less intense labor, but can only work if you have clear, level vision. A crooked head, an unobservant eye, impatience with person number one makes this job difficult as well.

 

Why is the search for a level, equal, even place so often pursued along a winding road?

 

In the mirror, in the minivan, in the marketplace, in the meeting room, it seems difficult to find an even keel. We hear ourselves saying, “It’s not that crooked when you tilt your head a little.”

 

Even when I can delegate or compensate for my picture-hanging deficiencies, the other uneven parts of life require attention.

 

The readings this week invite us, surprise us, with the issues of =.

 

Isaiah catalogs the distribution of judgment and blessing, James presses us to experience the temptations of favoritism, and Jesus shocks us with blunt language to a mother seeking help for her child.

 

= is elusive.

 

But, our prophets and apostles don’t merely describe, and Jesus doesn’t merely surprise. There is a path toward even, and it goes past several well-worn pit-stops along the way.

 

See you Sunday,

 

Christopher+

 

 
 
 
 

COMING UP

We are beginning a Ten-Talent Journey. On Sundays and in small groups, we are taking a journey towards God in the next several months. We invite you to join us along the way, and to do so with expectation. You can join us in the Asylum on Sunday at 9am, or join another group meeting throughout the week over the next five weeks.

 

Sunday at 9am- Nancy Ross is leading a three week study on faith from the life of Job in the Parish Hall. It begins this Sunday

 

With your Bulletin- Pick up a Storm Ready Card. This card invites you to: 1. Prepare for a Storm before it arrives. 2. Sign up if you need help preparing for a storm. 3. Serve on a team to help others prepare.

What is your favorite Soundtrack?

August 17th, 2018 by
“While fantastic acting and direction can help evoke emotion in an audience, nothing sets the tone in a film quite like its soundtrack. But while scores and songs are usually carefully chosen to match the dramatic arc in a film, there are times when a scene and accompanying song seem entirely mismatched. This dissonance between song and action has the power to make the scene even more poignant, emotional, or in many cases, more terrifying.”

This quote from The Guardian newspaper recognizes the power of music to shape the experience of a movie. You can easily see it in this 3 minute clip that matches a common scene with a handful of musical moods. https://youtu.be/rn9V0cN4NWs The music actively shifts your focus, attention, and even your comprehension of what you’re seeing. Even when you are seeing the same scene again and again.

St. Paul makes a similar point in Ephesians 5, where he exhorts the readers (including us on Sunday) to let the fullness of the Spirit within us match the music we sing to the story we’re a part of.

This opportunity to sync our heads, hearts, and lives is the front-end of the “worthy walk” that Paul encourages us to pursue. This walk, characterized by true wisdom, actually accomplishes what Solomon so wisely requests in 1 Kings. (Sunday’s OT lesson)

Along the way, we will see how a Navy Seal, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and a wayward researcher conspire to shift our focus towards walking with our heads held high.

In the meantime, what is your favorite soundtrack (or background music) for chores at home, studying, riding in the car, or a slow Sunday afternoon? Text me at 407-462-8885 and I’ll share some of your answers on Sunday.

grace and certain hope,

Christopher+                                                            

What do you see?

July 13th, 2018 by

The prophet Amos is shown a string in our passage for Sunday. More exactly, a plumb line.

God shows him this instrument used by skilled builders; held above and weighted below.

A simple tool with powerful diagnostic potential.

There is much more to the prophet Amos and the book that collects his ministry-long span of messages and visions. You can see a brief overview of the book here that may help put his message in context.

Overview of Amos

Our readings for Sunday cover both ends of the string. Ephesians chapter 1 exults in the plan of God that began long ago and high above us. Mark 6 recounts the grisly machinations that led to the murder of John the Baptist and Herod’s later reflections of Jesus’ current ministry after John’s death. The sky above and the ground below.

Each of us are most comfortable somewhere along the string, either preferring our faith to be towards the summarized side or the granular specifics.

Amos saw that God’s plan was for Israel (and us) to see that heaven and earth were already linked together. Even Herod recognized (without intention) that Jesus held a similar view. But this doesn’t just lead to recognition, but to repentance. And repentance leads to the other end of the string.

After church on Sunday, join us for CityServe. We will leave the church at 1220 to join others as we share a meal with neighbors in our community who are currently homeless. More details are in our upcoming events email and in the Sunday bulletin.

Pray for Mission in the City this coming week as middle-schoolers gather on our campus for service projects, worship and time together. There is a team of adults and interns who are guiding this week of ministry, but there are still opportunities to help fuel this week of cooperative ministry among churches in our community.

See you Sunday,
Christopher+

Friday Epistle – June 22, 2018

June 22nd, 2018 by
I remember a conversation between my 
grandmother and daddy one day when I was very small. I was sitting in the front seat of the car, actually in-between their conversation. We were bogged down in traffic and the cars around us had stopped on either side and my grandmother remarked to him, “Every one of these cars have people in them and they have things to do and plans they’ve made and worries on their mind.”
At that time, at that age, this had to be one of the most remarkable things I’d ever heard. There was plenty to keep me occupied in the conversations of just our front seat. Honestly, it changed traffic for me ever since. It’s also proved to be one of the slippery realities I’ve ever had to hang onto. Not because it was hard to comprehend, just difficult to live into consistently.
Every car. Every driver. Every passenger and every person texting them to see when they’ll arrive or to remind them to pick up the milk.
It doesn’t take long for the cloud of plans, worries and hopes in your own vehicle to crowd out the similar cluster of signals in the windshields of those around you. Add that to the highways your GPS reads to you, streets named in morning traffic updates, and the half dozen roads you can drive without thinking about them we soon have a city full of traffic. Each connected to jobs, homes, schools, stores and transition. Multiply this just by the communities that your relatives and best friends live in and soon we’ll be completely awash in the detailed lives of the people you know and those you only see in passing.
This week, the readings draw our attention to David, Paul, and Jesus. All three of them people whose actions, plans and intentions shaped history in tremendous ways. Each of them also had an eye for the people passing by. David, the newly minted Hero. Paul, the unstoppable Apostle. And Jesus. The Christ.
We will see how God calls us to take actions that improve life for those in our immediate circle of influence and for those we know only in passing. For us and for those one boat over.
We also want to invite you to our Fourth Bible Intensive this week. Monday – Wednesday evenings from 7.00-8.30, we will be considering the NT book of Hebrews. Whether the book of Hebrews is a favorite of yours or if you’ve never read a book of the Bible before, you are welcome.
Each evening, we will share dessert, glimpse the glories of Jesus, meet new friends, and see how the book strengthens the inside of our faith while preparing us for external challenges to the faith. Did you know that Hebrews teaches that Jesus is greater than Moses? Did you know that I knew that? See how that all fits together.
We will have a variety of teaching, activities and opportunities to connect the message of this beautiful book to our own lives and mission. Childcare is provided and you can bring a Bible or borrow one of ours. For more information, contact Christopher at fractalpilgrim@aol.com

See you Sunday,
Christopher+

Friday Epistle for May 4, 2018

May 4th, 2018 by

What do you do with the fifth goat?

Between the Services Sunday:
Join us for “Up, Up & Away- Jesus’ Ascension and Ours” this Sunday at 9am in the Parish Hall. How does the reality of Christ’s ascension (which we celebrate this Thursday) make a difference in the lives of those who follow him.
         “What do you do with the fifth goat?”
      Bishop William asked the leaders gathered from across India this question as he began his week of teaching about leadership in the church: Leadership that is fruitful, lasting, and marked by abiding joy.
     The priests and deacons of Mission India, seated together in an upstairs room, lit up as he described a farmer who had a single goat. He loved it so much that he fed it by hand, sang to it at night, and led it around for walks on a leash. Each day concluded with his prayer of thanks for the blessing of his goat. Later, the arrival of a second goat doubled the farmer’s thanks. The following year brought a third goat and then a fourth.

     At this point, the goats sometimes tangled their leashes, and the pressing need for food and water left the man frustrated. At night, instead of singing, he worried how he could bear the burdens these goats placed on him.
And then came a fifth goat.
“What do you do with the fifth goat?”
      Even across translation, +William is so good at this. He and +Carl have joined Ivan+ and Felicita with these friends (and more from the US) for the past several years, gathering together the local leaders who have been sharing the gospel, planting churches, enduring persecution both systemic and hostile, and thinking about leadership development for the next generation. What a joy to be with these women and men in worship, meals, prayers, study, discussion, and strategy. Every wonderful thing I’ve ever heard about the Christians there was true. (And your prayers for me, my family and the translator were graciously answered.)
      Their faithful service has led to increased responsibility and increased suffering. They talked about these things and many others. Conversations about new people to reach. Questions about pastoral responses to difficult situations. Concerns about safety and courage. Or, as +William might say, “Very many goats.”
     The opportunities and blessings God lays before us all can be occasions either for thanksgiving or complaint. Our own “goats” certainly have different names, but the challenges that accompany entangled commitments, allocating limited resources of time and attention, and thinking about tomorrow with either hope or anxiety is common to each of us. India, Winter Springs, DRC, Apopka, Zanzibar, Casselberry, South Sudan, Oviedo.
     Over the past several weeks, we’ve heard from a number of our international partners about life in their piece of God’s kingdom. Their places, like ours, are yet unfinished. The reign of God has not been fully realized. Opposition to God and the effects of this world’s sin have left their mark on the places they serve and the people for whom they care. In many cases, the burdens they face on a daily basis cause us to be shocked and moved to prayer. It happened again this week.
      But the burdens and challenges in our own piece of God’s kingdom urge us to pray with them, and not simply for them. Despite our relative comforts and security, our neighborhoods are not yet living under the saving care of the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s prayer is still needed both there and here.
     Joining our prayers to God with them, in partnership, allows us to see the challenges common to all those who follow God in the broader light of the struggle and triumph Jesus has won for us. The specifics of our situations vary. But as our partners reminded us as they joined us for hospital visits and prayers, suffering is common to all until Christ returns.
      +William pressed one additional point throughout the week. The blessings of God, the service and calling God has given to us is not designed to be fulfilled as duty alone. It is to be done with joy. Not joy as an additional duty, but as an experience of serving with Christ as he leads and provides.
      This week, we will look at the path to victory laid out for us in the words of Jesus and two of our Apostles. The Resurrected life is for Christ and for all who are his. Wherever they live, whatever they face, whatever the names of their goats.
See you Sunday,
Christopher+

Good Friday – Friday Epistle for March 30, 2018

March 30th, 2018 by
Good Friday

The Service for Good Friday leads us through the last hours of our Lord Jesus’ life on the day we commemorate his holy death. Beginning with Isaiah’s prophecy of the suffering servant through Hebrews’ description of the New Covenant, we finally listen to John’s narration of Christ’s trial and then rise to witness him cruelly crucified at Golgotha.
Our Communion Prayer (Rite 1) gathers and summarizes the motivation of God and the effects of Jesus’ death in this way.

All glory be to thee, Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for that thou, of thy tender mercy, didst give thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the cross for our redemption; who made there, by his one oblation of himself once offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world; …
It is here on the cross that Jesus combines the holy intentions of heaven with the broken realities of earth. Damnation, Judgment, Salvation, Blessing, Justice, Mercy, Death and Life. Grace. The Communion prayer makes petitions based on this“once offered” gift to His Father and his people.
…most humbly beseeching thee to grant that, by the merits and death of thy Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood, we, and all thy whole Church, may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of his passion.
In the Good Friday liturgy, we pray the Solemn Collects, ancient prayers that have borne the petitions of weary Christians to their great High Priest for centuries. Each Collect of collected petitions is focused on an area of concern- the church, the world, the hurting, the lost, and the departed. Each specific petition within the Collect may serve as a window through which we might look at our lives and see where God might be invited to apply “all other benefits of his [Jesus] passion.”
Good Friday ends without the pronounced blessing of either bishop or priest. What greater blessing than the redemption of the world and the security of our souls might we seek? We stand in awe and grief and are sated by the abundance of Christ’s generosity. There is no final dismissal, for we are a people waiting for Jesus’ self-specified third day, when the evidence of Christ’s trustworthiness will be revealed.
Throughout Lent, we have sung and prayed the comfortable words as we prepared for Holy Communion. Hear the Word of God to all who truly turn to him.

Come unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and
I will refresh you.    
Matthew 11:28
God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son,
to the end that all that believe in him should not perish, but
have everlasting life.    
John 3:16
This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received,
that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. 

1 Timothy 1:15

If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus
Christ the righteous; and he is the perfect offering for our
sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole
world.    
1 John 2:1-2
The Good Friday service concludes with a final prayer. In its expansiveness and boldness, we find the faithful response to the Savior’s invitation and accomplishment.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, we pray you to set your passion, cross, and death between your judgment and our souls, now and in the hour of our death. Give mercy and grace to the living; pardon and rest to the dead; to your holy Church peace and concord; and to us sinners everlasting life and glory; for with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, now and forever. Amen.
As you prepare for Easter Sunday and its joyful exuberance, we invite you to remember the good work your savior has done for you this day. And the good work he continues to do for us and the world because his Cross-work was not the end, but the beginning.
See you Sunday,
Christopher+

Friday Epistle for February 23, 2018

February 23rd, 2018 by
I said Alleluia on Sunday. It was accidental, but loud.
If there is a recording, you would know it was me. I had some ready excuses, mitigating circumstances, other exemplars of the wrong around me, but in the end, I did it.
Lent, just four days old, now wrecked and done.
Ash Wednesday begins the season with this call from the Church to its members.
I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and
meditating on God’s holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer.
Observing, keeping, or watching as Lent unfolds can be daunting. A goal of a “holy” Lent raises the stakes even higher.
The Church (i.e. the gathered, distilled and proven collective wisdom of those who have traveled this Easter road before us) offer us a set of practices or tools to observe this Lent more fully. The primary one comes at the invitation’s end- to kneel before the Lord. This makes sense not just for Lent, but year round. He is our
maker (he knows us inside and out and understands exactly how we are) and our
redeemer (he loves us and moves towards us in merciful grace through Jesus Christ)
Once we are in a position of humble acknowledgment that God knows us and loves us, we are freed to make use of the other tools provided. These tools are not to be used to fool God with our piety or busy-ness (He is our Creator) or to earn His love through sanctity or accomplishment (He is our Redeemer)
Self-examination, Repentance, Prayer, Fasting, Self-denial, Reading and Meditating on God’s holy Word. Quite a list from which to choose- engaging in word, worship and prayer for the sake of knowing Christ and ourselves better as we begin moving towards Jesus’ Passion and Easter.

But, what if Lent’s great design is thwarted by an ill-timed Easter acclamation, or a bag of M&Ms, or a thought, word, or deed left either done or undone?
It need not be.
Remember, Lent is a tool, not a rule.
Lent, and the other helpful patterns of formation are, in the words of Anglican theologian Martin Thornton “not intended for legalists.” Dallas Willard writes that the spiritual disciplines are “not righteousness, but wisdom”. They don’t make us better because we do them, they make us better because we use them.
As you worship on Sunday, it is good to lay aside the Alleluia so that its vocalization builds like steam in a boiler, ready to billow on Easter morning. It can be good to lay aside simple pleasures for the sake of cultivating and recognizing our appetites and desires as a way to remind us to pray or to give.
As you enter into Lent, here are two upcoming ways you might align yourself with the way that leads to Christ’s cross and resurrection.
On Wednesdays during Lent, join Bishop Carl in the church at 12 for “He Chose the Nails” by Max Lucado and noonday prayer.
This Wednesday evening at [TIME] , February 28
th, join us here at the church as we welcome Pastor Jon Ritner for an evening of conversation about reaching secularized people with the good news of the gospel. He will draw on his experiences as part of the staff of a megachurch here in the US, as well as a missionary to Belgium and now serving as pastor of a church in Hollywood California.
Join us on Sunday morning at 9am as we study Starting Over: Your Life Beyond Regrets. We will meet in the Parish Hall for breakfast and conversation around this Lenten Study. Other small groups using the book are taking place through the parish as well.
We hope that these and other opportunities will allow you to enter into the blessings of a holy Lent, imperfectly but intentionally, on our way together towards Easter morning.
See you Sunday,
Christopher+
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Friday Epistle February 9, 2018

February 9th, 2018 by
The Mission Continues

The gospel of Jesus has been reaching across countries, cultures and conversations since his first announcement that God’s kingdom was here. In his words and deeds; in his person and mission.

      Jesus’ commission had been prophesied by God’s servants the prophets in the Old Testament, and affirmed in his baptismal waters at the Jordan River. Magi offered gifts and homage as recognition that Christ’s birth was the turning point in history, for Israel and for the world. In Epiphany, we have traced his steps. He ascends this week to the Mount of Transfiguration, and then surprises us with his call to mission.
Jesus continued this mission in his own ministry, then expanded it in the initial missions of the twelve and seventy and then to the disciples on the day of his return to heaven. Sending the Holy Spirit to the initially gathered one hundred and twenty only expanded the mission, sweeping past the earlier barriers that God had allowed so that they could one day fall in recognition of Christ’s role as King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s. Through the courageous and crusty apostles, their helpers and converts and disciples along the way, the early church sought the empowering of the Holy Spirit to live into the mantle left by Christ, the head of the Church.

      And the mission continued. The history of the church is not narrated with the same inspiration and summation that we get in the books of the New Testament, and the faults and errors of the Christian past have caused many to reject the slow spread of the faith as evidence of its failure and look to some more recent “restoration” or restart. This is a mistake.

      The history of the church does trace the spread of the good news. In its pages and testimonies, we see the Lord’s providence and guarding of His Body, and countless opportunities when faithful women and men took risks for the Lord’s sake. For the fame of Christ, they initiated conversations with their neighbors, bore persecution for their beliefs, said goodbye to their families and friends, served even their captors, started tract societies and utilized every form of conveyance to reach the corners of the world.
     Why? So that those who have not yet heard may hear what St Paul wrote to Bishop Timothy back when the church was young. “This is a true saying and worthy of all men to be received, That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
The mission continues. As faith in Christ spread around the world, it has also been the mission of the Great Commission to apply the message of Jesus and the grace of Jesus to the hearts and lives of individuals and families, communities and nations. Good news for the world is also good news for mothers and fathers, for the unemployed and for the elderly, for the student and for the prisoner.
The good news of Jesus Christ arrived on these shores in the boats and hearts of settlers, both clergy and individual Christians who wanted the spread of peoples to be both strengthened and chastened with the spread of true Christian faith.

Here is another look at the first priest at Jamestown.

As a native North Carolinian, I was taught in the fourth grade (and again in the eighth grade) the names of the first two people baptized in the New World. I am still learning the significance of this poignant joining of the Croatan Chief Manteo and baby Virginia Dare, granddaughter of Colonial Governor John White around a Christian font on two August Sundays in 1587.  These first two baptisms point us to the marvel of Christian mission, Anglican and otherwise. Reaching out and reaching forward are the same gospel muscles.

     Extending Christ’s fame across boundaries and generations is the inheritance and call of all who bear his name. The many missionaries, missions and ministries our parish has the privilege of partnering with has given many of us the same chance to use those gospel muscles. For decades, God has blessed our parish with strong apostolic-minded mission leaders, once-in- a-lifetime friends, and connections that reach into homes and people groups throughout the world. And these blessings remind us of how big the world is, and how Christ powerfully unites us to those who are as unique as Baby Virginia and Chief Manteo.
Join us this Sunday with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration to see how his insistence of finding the right moment makes all Christian mission possible, and grants us the opportunity to share with him in his inheritance of nations.
See you Sunday,
Christopher+

Friday Epistle for January 26, 2018

January 26th, 2018 by
Contagious
 
     Germs are a given. They’re floating in the air, resting on surfaces, in spaces both public and private; and even being ferried from place to place by us.
     Yuck. Anti-bacterial soap and hand sanitizer were created for just such occasions.
     Coughing, sneezing, rubbing our eyes, touching other people’s hands or food can spread those germs from place to person. And they could get sick.
Or not.
     Germs are a given. While we know more about germs now than ever before in the history of our human family, there is much that is still mysterious. Some are mild, some are vicious, some are bacteria, others are viruses, fungi or protazoa. (I looked that up.)
     Yuck. You may want to wash your hands after your read this because phones and computers can also carry germs for quite a while.
     The variables involved in who gets sick and who stays well are often not solely about the germs themselves, but about wider frontiers like contagion, resistance, and susceptibility.
      Any number of factors go into assessing how likely a particular person may be to coming down with a bug, being “under the weather,” suffering through the flu, or a “test-on-unknown-biology-facts-tomorrow” cough.
     The New Testament passages for Sunday have us consider Jesus’ arrival in the Capernaum synagogue in Mark 1, where he moves towards an “unclean spirit.”  We also follow St Paul in 1 Corinthians 8 through the logic of eating food that has been offered to the idols of false gods.
     In these two passages we see issues that are commonly asked about by Jesus’ friends. And, we have teaching that helps us acknowledge that while germs are a given, we may look at them through larger frontiers.
     Jesus is moving through this Epiphany season as one who is fearless in the face of darkness because he knows that light is good, and he is bringing it this week as we read of his first miracle in Mark’s gospel.
     Paul is moving through a catalog of questions from his Corinthian sons and daughters who want to know how the light of Christ relates to them in a very defiled world. Paul knows that the light is good, and so he brings it.
     We each have our own questions about faithful discipleship, confidence in witness, and wisdom in responding to the soul and social sickness around and within us and those we love.
     Ultimately, it’s not about the germs. They are a given. It’s more about contagion, resistance, and susceptibility.
See you Sunday,
Christopher+

Friday Epistle for January 5, 2018

January 5th, 2018 by
“God saw that the light was good…” Genesis 1.4a
 
         As January begins, we have before us the open weeks and hours of another calendar year. While some dates and plans have been penciled in already, the wide open spaces in our planners allow us to take a moment to think afresh about our goals and priorities.
Epiphany comes to us as a perfect complement to this time of year. Picking up where the dozen days of Christmas come to their Magi-gifted conclusion, Epiphany is a spotlight to help us see the continuing wonder and the meaning of what it means to have God among us.
          If Christmas is the articulation of the doctrine of the Incarnation, “veiled in flesh the Godhead see,” the season of Epiphany is its application, showing us where and how the glories of the “Immanuel” make a difference to the expectant people of God. To the penitents standing on the banks of John’s Jordan, to the disciples who begin to follow him, to an unsuspecting couple whose wedding day has more guests than budget, and on and on to the Mount of Transfiguration.
         At each step, Epiphany asks us to look for the epiphany, or breakthrough where we can see the unveiled glory of Jesus Christ. The unveiling is always a gift of grace. No one has deduced and demanded the revelation of the Son of God. But God reveals Himself through Jesus, and Jesus reveals himself to be God to both Israel and the nations.
          This series of revelations or unveilings of Jesus’ identity and intentions often get described in terms of light coming into darkness. The Old Testament reading for Sunday takes us to Genesis and to the beginning for the beginning of a new year. It says that when God saw the light he created through his word, he saw that it was good. He takes it in, now actual and not just theoretical, and he evaluates it as being good.
          The Bible usually sees (ISWYDT) darkness as a problem or obstacle. It is sometimes a signifier of evil and danger, judgment, or undeveloped potential. John says that Jesus is the light who came into the world, and the darkness in the world was both powerless to overwhelm him and also unable to rightly perceive him. Darkness as enemy and darkness as disability.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1.5
As we begin a new year together, we are mindful that we all know someone who has not yet seen how good the light is. Maybe they’ve heard that it is, perhaps they’ve appreciated the positive effects in others, but they have not yet seen that it is good for themselves.
         Their own eyes and perhaps our unfocused vision as well, have so far missed the epiphany of the glorious Christ who shows his glory in such indirect ways, through baptism with sinners and service at a reception and compassion to those who do not yet see. In Israel and the nations. Jesus refracts his glory through the multifaceted and multi-fractured world so that the whole world might be illumined with the news of salvation.
         It’s not surprising that they cannot see. The Magi were just looking at the sky until the unforgettable star caught their eye. John was baptizing all who came until the heavens opened and the dove descended to the sound of heaven’s affirmation. The stewards in the kitchen were just filling water pots until the new wine spilled over and renewed the joy of the feast.
         Jesus is so patient and gracious to show himself to those who, for years before, and even halfway through, have no real idea he is even near them.
 
Join us tomorrow, Saturday January 6th at 9am for Holy Communion as we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany and the arrival of the Magi, concluding the 12 days of Christmas with the sharing of good news with the nations.
 
Next Sunday, January 14th, we are beginning a new series at 9am on Sunday  mornings titled “Good News for the Neighborhood.”Sheryl Shaw, our Missions Pastor and Erica Stephenson, our Youth and Families Pastor will be leading this four week exploration into how you can bring the light of Christ and the good news to those within your circles and spheres of influence. This would be a great way to begin the new year.
This Sunday, January 7th, we will meet at 9am to look at the Breakthrough themes and emphases of Epiphany as a way to frame our approach to discipleship in dark places.
Jesus stands beside those whose eyes are closed with an extended hand and patient insistence that it is good to be in the light. Because at the hand of Jesus, light is not distant or abstract but personal and present.
            This video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EltIpB4EtYUreminded me of the marvels of being able to see, and I think also of the perspective of Jesus towards those who cannot yet see. I know nothing about the non-profit organization highlighted here, so please don’t see this as an appeal for donations. I do see a story of two sisters who cannot see, and then they can.
            God can see that the light is good. We, by God’s grace, are seeing that the light is good. Epiphany is a great time to pray that others, closed off now in darkness, will come to see how good and bright the light of Jesus is.
See you Sunday,
Christopher+