Over the next four Sunday’s that this Bulletin covers we spend time in the season after Epiphany (January 6). Renowned Christian liturgical scholar Frank C Senn says: ‘The festival has its origins in the Eastern Christian churches, in which it was a general celebration of the incarnation of Jesus Christ that included the commemoration of: his birth: the visit of Magi (“wise men” as Magi were Persian priests) to Bethlehem; and Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist; and even the miracle at wedding of Cana in Galilee in which Jesus turned water into wine. It seems fairly clear that baptism was the primary event being commemorated…’ (pp119-120, Introduction to Christian Liturgy, Fortress Press, Minneapolis).
On Sunday 8 January we will celebrate the baptism of Jesus. John the Baptist had protested that he should not baptise Jesus, but that it should be the other way. So during the sermon we will look at what Jesus’ words, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness”, mean for us now (Matthew 3:15).
The readings for the weeks thereafter have many highlights. Themes of light, salvation and key moments and teaching in Jesus’ early life are prominent. While the sermon texts are still to be selected by the various lay readers, you’d be blessed spending some time with your study bible and these particularly profound texts:
Jan 15: John 1:29-42 ‘Look! The lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’. (John 1:29)
Jan 22: Matthew 4:12-23: ‘The people living in darkness have seen a great light’… “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt 4:16;19)
Jan 29: Matthew 5:1-12: The Beatitudes… ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…’ (Matt 5:3)
By the way, it was once custom at Epiphany to announce the dates of Easter (yes – prior to printing presses and smartphones, calendars were hard to come by!) So just to put it on your radar, as God wills, in 2017 Ash Wednesday will be observed 1 March, Maundy Thursday 13 April, Good Friday 14 April, Resurrection of our Lord Sunday 16 April and Pentecost 4 June!