January 3, 2011
Dear Canaan EM brothers and sisters,
I trust that the New Year has started off well for you! Indeed, I believe we’ll witness many exciting signs of God’s presence among us in 2011.
This Sunday, we will have a special worship service – a testimonial service! We’d like four or five of our members to share brief (5 minutes) testimonies that reflect on this Sunday’s scripture readings. The central passage is about the Baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17), when Jesus begins his public ministry. The other scripture readings focus on his mission as the Savior of the World (Isaiah 42:1-9 and Acts 10:34-43).
Of course, testimonies ought to be personal reflections about God’s activity in our lives. So don’t feel obliged to share a detailed exegetical study of the biblical texts. But it would be great if you could relate the texts to how God has worked in your life.
English worship will begin at 11 AM on the second floor. We will not have a joint service as previously announced. Instead, there will be a special ordination/installation service for our new deacons and elders at 12:15 in Worship Hall 1. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday!
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In 2011, Canaan’s theme is “Becoming a Healthy Church.” As we seek to envision God’s mission for Canaan, we need to nurture healthy spiritual lives, and relationships. During the season of Epiphany (Jan 6 – Mar 8), Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 4-6) will be at the heart of our Sunday messages. Indeed, these remarkable chapters are the touchstone for healthy Christian discipleship. So prayerfully reflect on Jesus’ teachings as we walk through them together. You can easily follow the lectionary texts at this website: http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/lections.php?year=A&season=Epiphany
Epiphany Season begins this Thursday. The Feast of the Epiphany is a Christian holiday which celebrates the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. This is a good time for our families to put away our Christmas trees and read Matthew 2:1-12 together. Dennis Bratcher says
The term epiphany means “to show” or “to make known” or even “to reveal.” In Western churches, it remembers the coming of the wise men bringing gifts to visit the Christ child, who by so doing “reveal” Jesus to the world as Lord and King…The Wise Men or Magi who brought gifts to the child Jesus were the first Gentiles to acknowledge Jesus as “King” and so were the first to “show” or “reveal” Jesus to a wider world as the incarnate Christ. This act of worship by the Magi, which corresponded to Simeon’s blessing that this child Jesus would be “a light for revelation to the Gentiles” (Luke 2:32), was one of the first indications that Jesus came for all people, of all nations, of all races, and that the work of God in the world would not be limited to only a few. The day is now observed as a time of focusing on the mission of the church in reaching others by “showing” Jesus as the Savior of all people. It is also a time of focusing on Christian brotherhood and fellowship, especially in healing the divisions of prejudice and bigotry that we all too often create between God’s children.
Indeed, as we read the Sermon on the Mount together, may our speech and actions testify to the truth that Jesus is, indeed, the Light of the World!