Sermon for 03 January 2021

Sermon The Journey

Today is January 3. We are far enough past New Years to know which resolutions really aren’t going to work for you this year. It didn’t take long.
It is also only 3 days until we have the celebration of Epiphany. That is traditionally the day when it is permissible to take down the Christmas lights. There is a religious significance to that date as well.
The word “Epiphany” comes from the Greek “epiphaneia” or appearance and is celebrated on January 6.
In the Eastern churches it is the anniversary of the Baptism of Jesus.
In the Western churches it is the symbol of the revelation to the Gentiles of Jesus portrayed by the coming of the Wisemen.
The first recorded date of this celebration is in 194 which means it is older than Christmas.
In England the Monarch offers Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh at the Altar in Chapel royal at St. James Palace. In the Eastern church the Holy water gets blessed.
In order for there to be an appearance there has to be a journey.
Today we look at the aspects of the journey, both for the Wisemen and for ourselves
I see a journey as having four parts
First is the coming of the light or the inspiration to begin
Second is the invitation to outside help
Third is the confrontation of obstacle and
Fourth is the new path that you have found.
I will explain.
Many people have a faith that is satisfactory but fairly static. Faith should be a journey. No matter where we are we can continue to grow. It is ok, in fact it is good to have doubts in your faith if it prompts you to ask questions and grow.
The Wisemen were well educated intelligent people but they wanted to know more.
Then one day comes the coming of the light. Literally for the Wisemen it was a star (Fortunately it wasn’t overcast like it was here a couple of weeks ago).
We may see it as a moment of inspiration or revelation. A crack in the seam of our beliefs. So with an open mind we seek answers.
Stage two is that we realise this is a universal quest. The Wisemen were not of Jewish origin. This is for all people. We should notice as well that the Wisemen were seeking outside of their own culture. If we look around we will discover spiritual paths by every race in the world. Many are similar and many have wisdom to share.
It is OK and in fact necessary to go outside of our comfort zone.
I know of two churches in my years of ministry that specifically forbade their minster to “visit in the new subdivisions”. Those churches were terrified of new ideas.
The third stage occurs once your journey has begun. I bet that every person listening to this can relate a story of setting out on a vacation just to have the car break down. Just because you start the journey doesn’t mean you are trouble free. The Wisemen took two years to reach Jesus.
Unfortunately, some people are discouraged easily and turn back when the first sign of trouble begins.
The parable of the four soils talks directly about that situation. When we are challenged to open up to others and love our enemies, that can be a huge hurdle. When we are presented with information that is contrary to what we hold dear, that too can be difficult.
Finally and fourthly, as we struggle through our journey we come to a greater understanding and a liberated faith. A faith that becomes our own and not one that was handed to us. A faith that causes us to walk in a different path.
As the bible says: the Wisemen returned home a different way
We too become different people. We become a reflection of God within our lives.
But it never ends.
That is not a bad thing
They say that the final stage of grief is acceptance.
There is no final stage of faith. You never reach perfection but the discoveries along the road are fascinating.
The Wisemen knew that if they stayed where they were after seeing the star that they would always wonder what if?
They could have closed themselves off and many people do but look what they would have missed.
Both ourselves and our churches need to constantly challenge and journey in the faith. We need to ask questions and be willing to travel, spiritually and sometimes physically. We certainly have journeyed in our worship style this year.
It is fitting that this journey story is at the beginning of the year. You may have given up on your resolutions but don’t give up on your journey of faith. There may be rough moments and moments of doubt but in the end it is worth it.
I finish with this poem called “God Knows” or
THE GATE OF THE YEAR Minnie Louise Haskins
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
PRAYER God, We journey into this new year. There are so many obstacles and opportunities ahead of us. We need your strength and guidance. Help us not to weaken in the face of new ventures. Help us not to be afraid of questioning our own beliefs. Help us to grow. God we thank you for the things we have already learned and path we have travelled with you in this past year and through our lives so far.
The birth of Jesus changed the world. Help it to change us and the world we presently live in.
We pray in silence, for those who especially need your care on this day…..
Now we pray in the way Jesus taught us.
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. lead us not into temptation. but deliver us from evil. for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory. forever and ever Amen
SERVICE Jan 3, 2021
Etransfer info at bottom of page
Thanks to helpers: Aubrey, Cathy, Cheryl
Opening Prayer
Hymn 81 As with Gladness
Scripture Matthew 2:1-12
Reflection The Journey
Lord’s Prayer
Hymn 91 The First Nowell vs 1 3 5 6
Go now in Peace
Go now in peace, Never be afraid
God will go with you, each hour of every day
Go now in faith, steadfast strong and true
Know God will guide you in all you do,
Go now in love and show you believe
Reach out to others so all the world can see
God will be there, watching from above
Go now in peace, in faith and in love
Amen, Amen, Amen
Info about contributing
The traditional way is to send a cheque via mail to one of the treasurers.
Make the cheque out to:
Churchill United Church
send to Agnes Cole at 226 Valleyview Dr. Churchill, Ont L0L1K0
or Gilford United Church
send to Doris Coborn at 1468 Gilford Rd, Gilford. L0L1R0
An Alternative (and better) way is Etransfer
(This method is faster, cheaper and cleaner. If you don’t know how to do it, the bank or some young kid has instructions)
Send the Etransfer to
The security question is – What is the name of your church
Answer – Churchill
No security question
Another option is contact us and we will pick it up from your porch. Thanks