Day 37: Christ revealed to the nations

Matthew 2:1-12

In today’s busy world I find it difficult sometimes to truly feel and experience the real Jesus. Society tells us to remove him from sight and only discuss or refer to him behind the closed doors of the church, lest we offend someone. Even at Christmas we are told to ignore Jesus. How does one know that Jesus is real and still with us?

In reading this passage I find it remarkable that Jesus is so real to the wise men of the East that they will travel so far and so long, just to experience his presence for themselves. He is so real when they do finally see him; they are overwhelmed and offer gifts, truly meant for kings. This little baby is so real to them, that they protect him from Herod and depart by another way. What a wonderful gift to have been in the presence of Jesus.

So how do we know Jesus is real today? I believe it is when we do his work. Jesus is real when we help those that are hungry, or need a place to spend the night. He is real when we listen to someone that is stressed out, or celebrate when someone is happy. Jesus is real when we offer a prayer, even when society tells us not to.
Jesus is certainly real. We just have to willing to see him, accept him and know him.

A prayer:
Jesus, I thank you for being real in our world. Help me to see you in all that I do and help me to know you are always with me.

Tom Young

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Day 36: God with us

John 1: 1-9

I got a call from the St James Devotional Police (their words not mine) that my devotion was due. OVERDUE..Reading the Bible is very hard for me. I will be reading line 6 but my brain is still trying to figure out what line 1 means. I spent the FULLLLLLL day listening to the verse over and over in different versions and different accents. One even had birds chirping in the background of the narrator! I read from theology sites and Bible sites of all kinds. I was making things difficult. I needed to simplify. “The Word became Flesh”. . THIS is the way I like to experience God. Hands on, that’s a way I understand.

St James and other local churches worked together to bring refugees to live in our community. Helping them in even the smallest ways were some one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. On about the 3rd day they were with us, I spoke with Joan Miller and shared how I couldn’t explain how GREAT I was feeling. She said she had been singing like a schoolgirl for days. We were all experiencing God’s Love, The Light, The Word become Flesh.

Turned out a lot of folks helping in the project were also feeling extremely elated. Here I thought we were going to be helping people from a far away place where they are prosecuted for being Christians. Jailed if found holding Bibles. God’s love though all of us was bringing them here away from their suffering but guess what??? It worked in reverse. I know for me, I learned I LOVE to give. I learned that to GIVE you don’t really have to HAVE anything. All those people working together all over the world to make this happen was definitely God’s Work, our Hands. The Word Becoming Flesh.

Ami Hines

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Day 35: The Gospel’s promise for all

Ephesians 3:1-12

The Apostle Paul is in prison at this point of his writing to the Ephesians.
The Good news is that Gentiles are now included in God’s plan of salvation,
through faith in Christ Jesus and his death on the cross. So what do we do
with this wisdom, as we enter this new year? Do we really believe?
Or do we let it go in one ear and out the other?

Paul, known as Saul was persecuting the believers.
This was a really big change in thinking back then.
How do we show our love and thankfulness for this gift of salvation?
Do you remember the parable of the Good Samaritan? Luke 10:25-37
Why did Jesus tell this story?

Matthew 22:36-40, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul, and with all your mind……… shall love
your neighbor as yourself.”
So many of the anthems we sing as a choir are very meaningful to us.
The one that stands out in my mind at this moment is the phrase,
“the least of these my brothers.”

Lord, we ask you to be with us. Our lives are full of so much that at
times we forget others in need. Help us to remember those in need
of help, and your Love. We pray in Jesus Name.

Carolyn Nicholson

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Day 34: Laws on dedication of the firstborn son

Exodus 13:11-16

In Exodus 13 God speaks to Israel with the following commands:

• Sanctify all their first-born to Him.
• Remember their deliverance out of Egypt and in so doing, remember to keep the feast of unleavened bread.
• Transmit this knowledge to their children.
• Set apart to God the firstlings of their cattle and explain that also to their children.

The word epiphany comes from the Greek word, epiphania, which denotes the visit of a god to earth, the manifestation of Christ as the son of God. We recognize God’s first-born and see him as the king that he is. The darkness of Advent gives way to the light of Christmas, seen dimly by the few that were gathered around the manger. But in Epiphany, the light shines forth brightly to all nations. Wise men from the East, following the star, return to the Orient and share what they have witnessed. So, just as the Israelites were freed from the captivity of their slavery in Egypt, we and all nations are freed from sin by Jesus’ birth. The light bursts forth!

This gift that we were given at Christmas, the gift that shines forth at Epiphany, comes with certain expectations of us. The Exodus passage encourages us to to remember these miracles and share them with our children. Further, we are to remember during participation in the Lord’s supper, just as the Israelites were commanded, that God sacrificed his first and only Son for our salvation. It is because of that precious body and blood that we dedicate our lives to serving God.

By sharing the good news made manifest to us at Epiphany we fulfill the commands spoken of in the Exodus passage. We commit ourselves to a life dedicated to the one who paid the price to redeem not only us, but all the nations of the world. Just as the Israelites were delivered out of slavery, and just as the wise men followed the light of the star, we too, go out in the world, carrying the light of Christ.

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son for our redemption. Guide us to live and love like Jesus as we share this Good News with others.
In His Holy Name…Amen

Mary Jo Frey
Judy Seilhamer

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Day 33: The will of God made known in Christ

Ephesians 1:3-14

In this reading of Ephesians we see that God chose us as his adoptive children through Christ.
In Him we have many promises: forgiveness of our sins, God’s grace, the promise of the Holy Spirit
as just a few. Our place in God’s chosen family makes us all worthy of these things in spite of our sins
that depreciate people of other races, women, the economically poor, sick, or aging.
How can we not help each other when we see how Christ did that very thing in his ministry? How can
we not take care of this fragile earth with which we are entrusted when we see what God has given and
done for us?

Best of all, Christ is living in us with love and the power to help us succeed in these things.
Does it get any better than this?

Heavenly Father, help us to realize just how much you have given us through your grace. Show us how
to use these gifts to further your will here on earth, We ask this in Jesus’ name.

Joan Wise

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Day 32: God takes on human form

Philippians 2:1-11

This passage reinforces the new St. James vision statement – “Forgiven and invited to live and love like Jesus”. Verses 3-7 – “Don’t do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast; but be humble toward each other, never thinking you are better than others. And look out for each other’s interests, not just for your own. The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had: He always had the very nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to become equal with God. Instead, of his own free will he gave it all up, and took the nature of a servant.” What a perfect New Year’s Resolution – we can each make the St. James vision statement our personal vision statement.

Prayer (from hymn 659)

Will you let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I may have the grace to
Let you be my servant too.

Jan Keefer

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Day 31: We are no longer slaves

Galatians 4:1-9

In this passage Paul reminds the troublesome Galatians (and us) that we are heirs to a spiritual parent. Unmindful of God, he seems to be saying, we are slaves to the things of this world and to our own misunderstandings of its nature. We are slaves to the powers that be in the world. But the Holy Spirit, he says, has put a cry of Abba (Father) into our hearts to move us toward embracing our proper heritage. Having really heard this cry, why would we turn back to what we were before? Clearly, Paul seems to want us to move beyond externals (and our past selves) to become the people we are truly meant to be.

Will Lane

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